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Half-Price, Late-Night Bargains At The Grocery Store

By: Mike Liem

Date Posted: 2000-06-23

One of the activities that have become part of my daily routine is late evening grocery shopping at either of the two supermarkets in my neighborhood. By late evening I mean about 30 minutes before the store closes for the night. Why do I shop for groceries at times when most people would be watching prime time TV or kicking back and relaxing? Great prices, that’s why.

About an hour before most local supermarkets close, the clerks come out and start slapping labels on fresh seafood and prepared food items. The red circular ones are half-price-off labels, and these are what I look for as I decide what to get for a late-night snack or tomorrow’s lunch.

Although the supermarket variety is not exactly my idea of great sushi, at 50% off it’s a pretty good bargain. The individually wrapped nigiri (traditional sushi) and maki (sea-weed-rolled) sushi usually cost about 50 yen apiece, so you could pick up about 8 pieces for 200 yen. Keep in mind that at half-price sushi goes fast and there may not be a good selection in the sushi case when you get there. And, as with anything involving raw fish and seafood, don’t buy sushi unless you plan on eating it soon.

In addition to sushi, the half-off offerings also include a wide array of cooked and prepared foods. The fried food section usually has such Japanese dining staples as breaded and deep-fried fish, tempura, and croquettes. You’ll also find lunchtime favorites like fried rice, stir-fried vegetables, cold somen noodles, and onigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed). Because these items are already cooked, you can put them in the ‘fridge and pack them for lunch the next day.

As is usually the case with supermarkets, the bigger the store, the more choices you’re likely to find. Take one of the biggest grocery stores on Okinawa, the Jusco supermarket, for example. This place has an in-store yakitori grill as well as the usual supermarket kitchen. As you may already know, yakitori consists of pieces of chicken meat or other chicken parts skewered on bamboo sticks and grilled over hot coals. You can pick up a package of four to six pieces of yakitori at half-price near closing time and pop them in your microwave for a cheap and delicious late dinner or snack.

Well, I’d love to tell you more, but would you look at the time…it’s almost nine already. Time to head out to the supermarket for tomorrow’s lunch. Hope to see you there!

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