The mall started out as Yaohan around 1990. It's not just the grocery and restaurant that count, but the home store, the book store, the toy store, and the ancillary shops around the grocery.
Of course, when Yaohan went away, so did the UCC café. However, it's still like a small slice of Japan, though you hear much more English these days.
It was 90 minutes' drive from my apartment outside northeast Philly, which is amazing. I would get there just in time for lunch. The plaza is on the river, so you can sit at a table and look out over the river at NYC. There are so many people in and out, the tables are sometimes not ready, but it's usually a short wait. If you're expecting a sit down meal with a waitress, this isn't it.
After lunch, a trip through the book store to get magazines, books, and music. Of course, the importing of such things would make them a bit more expensive but they were relatively cheap, either from the original Kinokuniya book store or Sanseido, so they must have been subsidized somehow.
The grocery store is big and people are always working. The company runs special events, including sales. Prices are typically high, as you'll find at H-Mart or local stores anywhere outside of California. They have practically everything, including some great produce.
Update: I made it to the Kyushi-Okinawa food festival today. It was so crowded for a Friday and there were lines for fresh ramen made by chefs flown from Japan and also for ice cream from Okinawa. Wow!
I decided to wait in the shortest line, which was Kabaya, and got ebiten udon set, which pleased me to no end. As the English for ebi is shrimp--these were jumbo shrimp which seems an oxymoron. It sounds better when you use prawns instead of shrimp. Finding a place to sit was better than usual and I only waited about 1 minute, although they had some seating toward the front of the building, which was much less crowded.
The rest of the visit was pleasant, as well. There are so many things to see, so many stores and restaurants to shop. The adjoining area has become heavily populated since the mall first opened.
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