One spot that’s well known to people living in San Mateo, but maybe not to those in other parts of the bay is Takahashi Market. It’s a really cool Hawaiian and Japanese market where you can pick up all kinds of snacks from Japanese rice crackers to pre-made hurricane popcorn. They also have a great selection of drinks including tons of flavors of Hawaiian Sun and Ramune, and you can’t forget their fresh poke and wakame salad, both of which are ready to eat straight out of the plastic containers. But what really draws foodies in from around the area is their hot food, which is surprisingly affordable for the most part, and you probably wouldn’t expect it from a little market.
Spam Musubi – $5.95
Takahashi Market is definitely most famous for their musubi. Spam musubi is a delicious snack influenced by Hawaiian and Japanese cuisine. You basically make a spam sushi roll with a sauce kind of similar to teriyaki sauce, and the pieces are usually the length of a slice of spam (so maybe 3-4 inches). Takahashi Market, on the other hand, makes theirs a little longer than two Spam slices long, so they’re basically burrito-sized, but a little thinner. The best part is each one is only $5.95, and one will most likely fill you up.
They do have other variations like their unagi/crawfish musubi, which is SO good, but it costs $14.95, so it’s not nearly as good a deal.
Shioyaki Salmon – $9.95
Aside from the musubi, Takahashi Market actually has a kitchen and they offer a full menu of lunch plates that are surprisingly good! One of my favorites is their shioyaki salmon over rice. “Shioyaki” basically means “salt grilled” so there’s no extra sauce on top, unless you add the soy sauce from the packet that comes with it. This will definitely leave you with a happy belly for less than $10.
Mochiko Chicken Katsu – $10.95
While I try to keep these bay area cheap eats recommendations under $10, I had to include Takahashi Market’s chicken katsu despite it being $10.95 for several reasons. First off, katsu is a super popular Japanese dish, and for just $1 more, it seems worth it to me if you’re having a craving. And secondly, it’s prepared really well! It’s super crispy on the outside with tender chicken on the inside, and here’s a pro tip – get the katsu sauce on the side if you’re planning to travel somewhere to eat so that the katsu doesn’t get soggy.
The items mentioned above are just my favorites, but some of the other dishes Takahashi Market offers for under $10 are loco moco, shoyu pork shoulder, Kalua pork, flank steak kalbi, Spam & eggs, Portuguese sausage & eggs, and Aloha tater tots (topped with kalua pork, aioli, and furikake).
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