It was only a few Saturdays ago that there were so many shoppers at Maruichi Japanese Food & Deli you had to gingerly maneuver around the sprawling store. That was before the coronavirus swept the world. But the shelves at this new market in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner remain filled with a dizzying array of Japanese food products. From snacks, cookies, soups, pancake mixes, premium rice varieties to more exotic, A5 grade Wagu beef steaks ($99 a pound), packages of fermented soybeans, chrysanthemum leaves for salads and hot pots, special eggs for a dipping sauce. Most thrilling is the glistening slabs of tuna for sushi. Customarily the store sells yellowfin, bluefin in three grades, and bigeye ($30 to $50 a pound). Now you can expect to find mostly yellowfin. “We’re still here chugging along,” says store manager Josh Nakama. The market replaced Gen Sou En Tea House (the sign outside still remains for now). Before the pandemic, you could relax at wooden tables in the back with a steaming bowl of ramen. Maruichi paired with Brooklyn Ramen, which operated a takeout window here and offered choices that have a twist on the traditional, with whole-wheat noodles and Wagu beef. Now the ramen business offers kits with all the ingredients so you can assemble a bowl at home. The store opened with items that are not available now but will be back in the future — milk bread and sweet red bean paste buns from Clear Flour Bakery of Brookline and French pastries by A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem. A coffee bar with coffee from Ogawa, the Japanese chain with a shop in Boston, will eventually reopen. Owner Masakatsu Watarai has two other Maruichi markets, one in West Hartford and another in Scarsdale, N.Y. He realized there was a demand for his goods in Greater Boston. “We were delivering specialty products to the area three times a week that others don’t carry,” Nakama says. 299 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-487-8171.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.