East Toronto now has a source of Japanese products to call its own.
It could be any corner grocery on any street in Japan. Except this is near the corner of Coxwell Avenue and plains road, north of the Danforth. Ja pantry, the charming new mom-and-pop Japanese variety store in East York, may be unassuming, but it hides a treasure trove of Japanese products and homemade treats.
With a name like Ja pantry, you can probably guess that the vibe is going to be homey. The store has indeed made a big effort to become part of the community. Surrounded by other local shops and restaurants, the little store is at the centre of a family neighbourhood. There’s a high school next door and students are a big part of the lunch rush.
The shop has already attracted a loyal group of repeat customers, many of whom have a connection to Japan—whether they’ve been there on vacation or they have family there. Ja Pantry always makes an effort to accommodate regulars’ special requests. This is notably why the shop now offers such a wide selection of organic and gluten-free foods and condiments.
it’s no wonder the store satisfies people’s cravings for a little piece of Japan. Toronto has lots of amazing sushi restaurants and izakayas, but it’s that taste of everyday life that a store like Ja Pantry can offer better than anywhere else.
At Ja Pantry you can find all sorts of charming things that are commonplace in Japan but unusual in Toronto—for one, this corner store offers delicious homemade meals to go. Ryota Katayama, the owner, makes fresh donburi, or rice bowls, and onigiri, triangular pockets of rice and condiments wrapped in nori. The onigiri come in traditional flavours like ume, a savoury plum that’s floral, salty and a little tangy. There are also new twists like the delicious and satisfying chicken karaage onigiri with wasabi mayo. if you’re a little hungrier, try the karaage don. it’s home-style comfort food with rich flavours of fried chicken, Japanese mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce and pickled ginger.
You used to have to travel as far as J-Town on Steeles Avenue to find the kind of selection on offer here. Ja Pantry may have already become part of its local neighbourhood, but it’s a great resource for people everywhere on the East Side.
973 Coxwell Ave., Toronto 416-551-2892
OPEN: Daily 10 am–7 pm