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Uwajimaya Staff Favorites

Whether you've been an Uwajimaya regular for decades or are an eager newcomer to our aisles, an insider perspective can be a nice helping hand. So we asked the people who know our four Pacific Northwest stores the best: What are a few of your favorite things?

Groceries and Food

If we’re talking staff picks, we should probably begin with the stuff Uwajimaya is most famous for: our food! Frankly you can’t really go wrong here. (It turns out the adage “never shop hungry” is true.) But, for some extra tidbits, our staff insiders have shared some food worth checking out.

After 17 years at our Beaverton store, front end manager Ying particularly recommends a classic, the O’Tasty BBQ Pork Bao, and a yummy product that might sound a bit unorthodox to the unfamiliar — S&B Cod Roe Spaghetti Sauce. While you’re probably used to spaghetti being paired with tomato-based sauces, don’t turn up your nose! The combination of salty cod roe, soy sauce, and other spices are, as Ying says, “so tasty and convenient — simply add the sauce to cooked pasta and serve.”

Also at our Beaverton location, two front end cashiers share their favorites: Donavan and Junita go for Natto and Mae Ploy Green Curry Paste, respectively. Natto is a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans and, per Donavan, “is one of the best nutritional value snack meals, especially paired with cooked Tamanishiki rice it makes my day explode with happiness.” Junita’s go-to, the curry paste, “is no sugar added, [unlike] other brands. [It’s] also spicy too.”

A few hours north at the Seattle location, our office manager Daysha has her pick: Waimanalo Ko-Ko Takuwan. This pickled radish is made in Hawaii and comes in hot varieties too. With its tang and acidity, Daysha says, “it’s the perfect…side for any meal.”

Local seafood expert, Ryan Rector, has two particular favorites when it comes to Uwajimaya: black cod and sake lees. If you ask him, “[they] combine to make one of the best dishes in the city.” Even just by itself, black cod “has this incredible silky ribbon-like texture, mild fish flavor, and high healthy omega fat content,” says Ryan.

Sake lees are the yeast byproduct that’s left over from sake’s fermentation process. In Ryan’s opinion, this ingredient “is great to have around because of its long shelf life and many uses. I often…add it to my braising liquids.” Now, what is this “best dish in the city” that black cod and sake lees combine to make? That would be Ryan’s kasu black cod, which has “a big, slightly sweet sake flavor, and the texture is more pronounced from the brining process.”

But other than the Uwajimaya staff’s food favorites, what are some of their picks for getting the kitchen running as well as possible?


Kitchen Gamechangers

For cooking lifesavers, two of our Renton employees have the answer. Joshua, our grocery department assistant manager of seven years, is a fan of the electric kettle. For those of us used to boiling on the stove top, this utensil might seem redundant, but Joshua pitches otherwise: “I like this item because of its convenience factor…You don’t realize how convenient it is until you don’t have one.” An electric kettle is particularly useful for people who often enjoy tea or instant noodles, where the leftover mess from stove top boiling and straining can be more hassle than it’s worth.

Also in Renton, produce department clerk Tyler swears by the donabe. Donabe are Japanese ceramic cooking pots whose hardy, thick build gives them a trademark ability to both heat evenly and retain heat for incredibly long. They’re also mega-versatile — donabe can be used for hot pot, soups, stews, rice dishes, and more. Tyler’s favorite food to cook is, fittingly, nabe, which is a hot pot-style family of dishes. Specifically, he says, “I like the rusticness of cooking in clay, and it’s a very social way of eating.” And when it comes to Uwajimaya’s collection, he says “I love the colors and designs of the donabe we carry.”

Outside the Kitchen

Even though what first springs to mind is probably food and kitchenware when you think of Uwajimaya, we’ve got some gems for your non-cooking needs, too. Particularly where skincare is involved, some of our employees have a few favorites. Ashley and Natasha have a combined 11 years at Uwajimaya’s Renton and Bellevue locations; they have complementary picks to support skin health — the Natureine Aqua Peel and HABA Squalane. The Natureine exfoliates skin and HABA “moisturizes perfect.” With the Natureine, Ashley’s emphatic about its usefulness for skin that might not like other exfoliants. She says she “[likes] this product because it gently exfoliates my super sensitive skin without leaving it feeling dried out and irritated.”

For other beauty products beyond skincare, Bellevue’s Amanda and Taryn recommend our shea butter shampoo and NewBorn eyebrow pencil. The shampoo, says Amanda, is her favorite shampoo: “It softens my thick hair very well and is sulfate free. My hair feels much healthier after using it.” As for the eyebrows, NewBorn’s pencil is “easy to use and stays for all day. I use it every day and it completes my look.” And while a lot of eye and eyebrow makeup is a hassle to clean off, Taryn vouches that this one “is super easy to remove. I would definitely recommend this eyebrow pencil.”

Another Bellevue staff member’s favorite item is for more than just cosmetics. Our gift manager, Runa, is a fan of the ITO disposable towel. Among its qualities is versatility — she loves it “to clean my face, table, toilet bathtub, and kitchen. It’s a perfect disposable towel to protect you from any germ.”
The truth is that there’s practically endless products to explore at Uwajimaya. But if you need a bit of help deciding where to start, we hope our staff’s favorite items can be the perfect spark!