Baby Anchovies to Pure MSG: Unique Items From the Japanese Market

You may have sampled Chef Michio's delicious and well priced sushi at the Japanese Market, in North Bay Village, but have you ever actually bought anything there? Sure, you could go with standards like rice or sake, but dig a little deeper and you can find unique items like these that you won't find anywhere else in the area.

1. MSG
You've heard about it, and probably ordered your Chinese food without it. It's MSG ($2.19), that "evil" flavor enhancer that has always gotten a bad rep. Sure, it keeps you up all night and makes your heart race, but it also imparts a meaty umami flavor that you won't get from anywhere else except, well, meat.

2. Takoyaki Grill
Live out your Asian street vendor fantasy and buy a Takoyaki Grill Pan ($19.50) to bake these puffy dumpling/pancake hybrids often filled with octopus. This pan may look like a one trick pony, but with a little creativity you can easily adapt a takoyaki recipe into a breakfast or dessert or use the pan to make the Danish version, called ebelskivers.

3. Pocari Sweat
If you're bored with Gatorade and Powerade, maybe it's time to try Pocari Sweat ($2.98). Sure, the name may sound more appetizing in Japan, but the subtle grapefruit flavor may be just what the doctor ordered to replace that sugary-sweet sports drink you're used to.

4. Dried Baby Anchovies
Finally, a portable anchovy to take on the go. Usually used in soups and sauces, Chirimen ($5.69) is the anchovy version of beef jerky, although you'll probably prefer the beef version on your next hike.

5. Horseradish in Sake Lees
Made from the rice paste that is leftover from the sake-making process, sake lees offers a rich umami flavor similar to sweet miso. Mixed with horseradish, it becomes Wasabi-Zuke ($7.29), a condiment that matches well with fish and is equally delicious mixed into a bowl of white rice.

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