Vegan on a Budget: Shopping at Hanamasa
Veganism has a reputation for being expensive and inaccessible, but it is actually fairly cheap if you shop smartly.
One of the best places in the city for vegan grocery shopping on a budget is Niku no Hanamasa, or Hanamasa for short. Which is ironic, as it means, “Meat of Hanamasa.”
It’s meant for restaurant owners, so a lot of things are sold at wholesale prices.
Be warned, however, that since this is a meat seller you will see A LOT of raw meat and fish. The good thing is that it’s all in one section, so just avoid that area if you are sensitive to the smell or sight.
It’s best for fresh produce, frozen items, and snack foods like granola, nuts, and crackers. It also sometimes has fun imported products, so I always keep an eye out for those.
Read on for a guide on shopping as a vegan at Hanamasa.
Vegan Options at Hanamasa
I do almost all of my produce shopping at Hanamasa, simply because it is such a money saver.
You can get large bundles of both fruit and vegetables for a very reasonable price. Some of my staple veggies include eggplant, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms (all types), bok choy, spinach, kabocha, and bell peppers.
Sometimes herbs like cilantro and basil are on sale, so I like to keep an eye out for those as well.
For fruit, Hanamasa regularly sells apples, oranges, grapefruit, or bananas. Depending on the season, you an also find mikan, persimmon, melon, watermelon, peaches, mangoes, strawberries, and prunes.
Some of them are not the most well-handled and can be bruised or crushed, so be careful when picking out the products.
I have had some bad luck with their avocado and grapes, so I would say either skip out on those or choose very, very carefully.
Hanamasa often sells a good variety of fun food items, both domestic and imported. The imported products tend to change pretty regularly, which can be disappointing if you find something you like, only to discover a week later that they have stopped selling it.
Thus, if you find something you like I would recommend stocking up just in case!
Some of my favorites are dried fruit, roasted chestnuts, veggie chips, and coconut chips.
There are always some great pantry items, such as pasta, spices, nori, and cereal. A lot of it is imported as well, which is really convenient if you are looking for things like gochujang, salsa, coconut milk, rice noodles, or pasta sauce.
Other than the above, I also buy soba or udon noodles, soy sauce, cooking oil, miso, diced tomatoes, konbu dashi, and pickles.
Despite its name, Hanamasa does sell plant-based protein sources.
You can find natto, fresh tofu, fried tofu, and canned beans all at a very affordable price.
I usually stock up on canned chickpeas, kidney beans, and natto, but I find that you can find better-quality tofu elsewhere.
There is a huge selection of frozen fruits and vegetables in Hanamasa, which are perfect for cooking quick meals on weeknights.
You can find frozen fruit like strawberries, mixed berries, and blueberries that are great for smoothies.
For veggies, you can find broccoli, peas, corn, cauliflower, kabocha, edamame, spinach, carrots, green beans, bell pepper, and more.
Personally, I tend to stick with broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and corn. I have found that the other frozen vegetables are not as fresh and flavorful (although I haven’t tried them all).
One of my favorite areas of the store is the potato freezer (yes, there is an entire dedicated freezer for all things potato).
Here, you can find huge bags of fries and tater tots that can be cooked easily at home.
I often buy the tater tots and throw them in the air fryer for 15 minutes or so, and they make for a great snack or appetizer.
You can find their shops all over Tokyo, as well as in Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa. There are around 40 locations in Tokyo alone, and most are open 24 hours.
You can see the full list here.