What to buy and eat at Providence’s new Japanese supermarket, Maruichi

What to buy and eat at Providence’s new Japanese supermarket, Maruichi

PROVIDENCE — If ponzu sauce gives you a kick and slices of raw fish are one of your comfort foods, don’t sleep on Maruichi. It’s the new grocer in downtown Providence, offering Japanese snacks, sushi, drinks, prepared foods and sweets. It took over the ground-floor space at 113 Washington St., also known as the Nightingale Building, where Cape Cod-based Rory’s Market was (before closing in October 2023 after less than a year).

Rory’s brightly colored displays of perfectly arranged soda cans and expensive salads have been exchanged for Maruichi’s rows of onigiri, freezers stocked with dumplings and gyoza, and shelves of noodles. Based on the sheer number of people in and out of the store since it opened on April 20, I’d say Rhode Islanders are here for a change. In the meantime, I’m a little obsessed. Here are a few items I think you should try:

A mini chirashi bowl at Maruichi Japanese Food & Deli in Providence, RIAlexa Gagosz

Chirashi to go: Need something quick for lunch? Head to the store’s refrigerators and grab a mini chirashi bowl, a traditional dish of seasoned sushi rice topped with a variety of sashimi and fish roe. At Maruichi they use tuna, salmon, hamachi, house-made yuzu shoyu ikura, radish sprouts, pieces of pickled ginger and a dollop of wasabi. It’s a colorful bowl for less than $13. Sprinkle some soy sauce on top and eat it with a pair of chopsticks.

Chocolate cake: Americans have their own versions, but the Lotte Choco Pies hit differently. It is a snack-sized snack that consists of a marshmallow filling between two small round layers of yellow cake, and the whole thing is covered in a semi-hard chocolate shell. I recently bought a box of six chocolate cakes for less than $1 when they were on sale. I’m still kicking myself for not buying more.

A chocolate cake. Quercus acuta

Onigiri: Onigiri, also known as ‘rice balls’ or omusubi, are beloved snacks in Japan. If you haven’t had them before, they’re simple to make: white rice is shaped into a triangle and wrapped in nori. If you already have a container of seaweed salad or sashimi, these little guys cost just $3, made fresh every morning, and can help fill you up until your next meal.

A row of onigiri in the Maruichi shop.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Instant miso soup: This spring’s allergies are already haunting me, leaving me with no energy to prepare a full meal at the end of the day. Sometimes I wish I could just add hot water to everything. My wish came true with instant miso soup. Maruichi has rows of these packets for sale, and there are many varieties: plain shiro (white) miso, or miso with chunky mushrooms, green onions, fried tofu or seaweed.

Frozen gyoza: I’ve said it before, but dumplings are the world’s ultimate comfort food. In Japan, gyoza (also known as pot stickers) are fried until crispy and golden brown on the bottom. Maruichi has freezers full of bags of gyoza, from pork or chicken to beef or seafood. They are already cooked, just put them in a pan with a little oil until golden brown. I like to sprinkle a little chili pepper on top (last time I was there I tried the only brand they had: Momoya Chili Oil with Fried Garlic. It’s tasty, but I prefer a little more spice.).

Packages of frozen gyoza at Maruichi Japanese Food & Deli in Providence, RIAlexa Gagosz

Sashimi: Maybe you want to satisfy your sashimi cravings in the comfort of your own home, or maybe you want to try making your own sushi. Daily cuts of salmon, Amberjack Kanpachi, yellowtail and madai are all available at Maruichi. Bonus: If you’re rolling sushi at home, the store also sells plastic and bamboo rolling mats. If you choose a bamboo mat, make sure you have plastic foil at home that you can use as a buffer between your mat and ingredients, such as nori. (Bamboo rolling mats can spoil quickly if not dried out properly).

Pieces of sashimi at Maruichi in Providence, RIAlexa Gagosz

Rice seasoning: Furikake is a dry seasoning that is often used to easily improve the taste of all kinds of dishes – from fish and vegetables to rice. There’s an entire wall of various packets of rice spices (starting at $2.99 ​​each) hanging on hooks, or larger jars sitting on shelves, in the store. If you’re a beginner at experimenting with these packets, try a simpler flavor combination, like the pepper-furikake spice or the sesame-apricot-furikake-sesame.

Noodles: Soba. Udon. Windows. Yakisoba. Shirataki. Rice noodles. There are several common types of Japanese noodles: some are as well known as ramen, while others are less well known in America. Either way, grab a kit (or two) to make at home.

Soba noodles at Maruichi in Providence, RIDavid L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Maruichi Japanese Food & Deli is located at 113 Washington St. in Providence, RI. The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m

This story first appeared in The Food Club, a free weekly email newsletter about food and dining in Rhode Island. Are you already a member of the club? Check your inbox for more news, recipes and features in the latest newsletter. Are you not a member yet? If you would like to receive it by email every Thursday, You can sign up here. Do you have an idea for a Rhode Island dining guide? E-mail [email protected].

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at [email protected]. follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.