While most industrialized countries have been taken over by mega stores, limited real estate and adventurous consumers are moving Japan in the opposite direction. Senmonten—shops and restaurants based around a single concept—are happy to do one thing and do it well. We take a look at a few.
Not so long ago it was difficult to find anything other than run of the mill table salt in Japan, but now home chefs have a whole arsenal at their disposal. At the forefront is Masuya (1-7-3 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6447-4150), which stocks a dizzying selection of the culinary mineral, from Okinawan sun-dried sea salt to smoked varieties from Cyprus. Information cards show at a glance the country of origin, whether it comes from rock, sea or lake and the coarseness of each product. They even have a “salt sommelier.” There is a tasting bar if you want to try before you buy. Of course, the shop also offers shakers and mills, but it also has salt-based “sweets,” soft-serve ice cream and inedible varieties for the bath.
See more senmonten in the Restaurant section.