Update October 2011: This is by far the most searched for post on this blog, with hits almost every day. I will eventually get around to do a proper update of it, but I want to mention to you that one of the shops which I mention below, in Brugata, has been taken over by A Food Market since I first wrote this post! It’s smaller and more cramped than the original store, but it has the advantage of being open on Sundays. Happy shopping!
Oslo is an increasingly multicultural city, with a growing array of well stocked Asian groceries. While I haven’t really had a chance to explore in depth the Grønland area, I know the stores in the city center quite well. Most of the stores featured in this post are conveniently located near my job. As I am cooking a lot of Japanese-ish food lately, I have tried to highlight shops that carry Japanese items.
First I would like to highlight my favorite, which in my opinion is the king of Asian markets around here – A Food Market on the corner of Calmeyers gate and Osterhaus gate. It’s big, new, shiny and clean, with an ever growing selection of all things Asian. The focus is Vietnam/Thailand, but they are also filling up a Japanese shelf now. For Japan lovers, they stock Qewpie mayo and kombu, as well as instant Japanese curry, nori and two brands of sushi rice (Shinobe and Nishiki).
They have an astounding frozen food selection, with a whole freezer for fish balls and another one for pre cut frozen sushi fish. There’s also edamame, both whole and shelled, and lots of other frozen fish and shrimp, as well as lots of pre made stuff (dumplings, spring rolls, glutinous rice balls etc etc).
The vegetable selection is good, particularly for specifically South East Asian stuff, but not the best in town. Over all this is my favorite shop.
Around the corner, in Torggata, is T&T. This place also has a good selection of SE Asian stuff, and a shelf with Japanese/sushi items. Good vegetable selection.
Across the street is Izmir import, a Turkish store with a wide selection of fruit and vegetables and Middle Eastern food. They also have some other Asian wares. I generally go for the vegetables.
In Brugata there are two excellent shops for fruit and vegetables. One is called Torget Frukt og Grønt, and the other has no discernable name. They seem to be run by SE Asians as well, and carry the usual fixings. Cheap tofu in the no-name one.
In between the two shops there is a store that sells cheap plastic goods. To my suprise they had a small selection of very cheap bento boxes, both single- and two-tier. They were very poor quality and most of them were actually broken. I would have some qualms about storing food in them too…
These Asian stores, while excellent, have a rather poor selection of Japanese food items. The one place that would be more reliable is Japan Torget at Majorstua. They do have a lot of things you can’t find elsewhere, but it is just so expensive! (The edamame here is two or three times as expensive as at A Food Market…) I have bought shichimi togarachi and mirin seasoning (I don’t think they sell real mirin anywhere, not that I have seen anyway) there only, due to the prohibitive prices. They do carry mochi, shirataki noodles, some furikake and various things you can’t find elsewhere. Sadly no bento boxes, but lovely carafes for sake etc.
Lastly, I would like to highlight the AMAZING health food store in Sandvika in the bottom floor in the new section of the Sandvika Storsenter mall. It might be called Helios, I am not entirely sure. This is the most incredible health food store I have even been to (not counting Whole Foods, but I’m not sure that’s classified as a health food store?). (update 14-04-10: this place is called Kinsarvik Naturkost, they have a website and I think you can order food online from them. Their selection is truly amazing.).
They stock most of the Clearspring range, I believe. Clearspring makes incredibly appealing Japanese products, with great packaging.. They have soba noodles, both 100% buckwheat and the buckwheat/wheat kind. I believe also the kind with yam. They also have various sea vegetable products, and shoyu (only place I have seen shoyu, not soy sauce). This place also has TWO kinds of short grain brown rice, both Clearspring brand and Suma. I have tried the Suma one, which is cheaper (ie not quite so expensive).
These products are expensive, but very high quality. Clearspring white miso is also the only white miso I have seen around, mostly they sell the darker kinds in other Asian stores.
So that was a little primer in where to find good Asian/Japanese groceries in and around Oslo, tested by yours truly…