The closest grocery stores in Princeton, such as Costco and Target, are a fair distance from campus. This might encourage students to spend on nearby restaurants. However, as of late, Maruichi Japanese Food & Deli has presented students who are sick of Frist sushi with a slice of authentic Japanese cuisine.
Located on Nassau Street, Maruichi is a market that offers various Japanese foods, ingredients, snacks, and more. I found the addition of Maruichi to Nassau Street’s array of restaurants to be absolutely life-changing. Whenever I engage in food-securing expeditions with my friends, we often find ourselves in situations where we can only purchase food from restaurants. As a result, during my time at Princeton, I have formulated some short-hand rules: the food on Nassau Street must cost at least $8 but is often between $10 and $20. At times, it feels like I am paying my life savings for a loaf of sliced bread. At Maruichi, you can find onigiri for $3, pastries for $3.75, and more. Near closing time, the onigiri and some meals, such as gyudon, are half-priced.
Given this and the fact that there are not many markets on Nassau Street, others at Princeton seem to have found Maruichi’s debut to be sensational. On the day of Maruichi’s grand opening on March 25, there was a line of excited customers at the front doors, who stood in the rain to experience Princeton’s latest attraction. I learned that many stayed on the line in hopes of obtaining free products from Maruichi. I made it my mission to learn more about the new Japanese market.
Walking into Maruichi, I could not help but notice how much I’ve missed the distinct supermarket aesthetic and experience, which is rare at Princeton. I felt like I was back home at my local Japanese market. When you enter through the doors and look to the right, you’ll find an impressive and diverse set of bread and pastries. Most of the pastries are baked at Maruichi itself, and they offer a selection of Tokyo Bread pastries in their aisles. Some of the types of bread they offer include maple bread, chocolate bread, coffee cornets, and buns with red bean paste inside. Nearby, there are a set of refrigerators containing matcha ice cream, Ramune, matcha lattes, and much more. To the left of the entrance, you can find delectable snacks such as daifuku and Pocky, which are sold at competitive prices ($2.00–$2.50) when compared to Princeton’s U-Store ($5).
I continued the exploration through the aisles of Maruichi with a comrade. We found stacks and stacks of dangerously good gummies, chocolate snacks, sweet bread, mochi, and ramen. Some of my personal favorites at the market include maple bread, Alfort chocolates, and rice crackers; my eyes also could not help but fall victim to the allure of matcha-flavored Kit Kats. To my initial surprise, Maruichi went beyond the realm of snacks: at the back of the market, there are aisles dedicated to various home products such as shampoo, plushies, bags of rice, and skincare products. There are even sections of the market devoted to raw seafood, sushi, and prepared meals such as beef with udon noodles.
Initially, the plan with my friend was to simply explore Maruichi. However, I fell victim to my materialistic desires and told my friend to fetch me a basket, so I easily spent about $50 on my first trip to Maruichi. After many weeks since its grand opening, I have made numerous trips to Maruichi, and I expect to make many more while I spend this summer at Princeton. My roommate has spent hundreds of dollars within the first two weeks of the market’s opening. My friend and I left the establishment wailing to each other, ‘No! My money!’ Indeed, our wallets are in grave danger: suffice it to say that Maruichi certainly lives up to the hype from our fellow students.
Gregory Serrano Arevalo, a sophomore from Salinas, California, is a contributing writer for The Prospect at the ‘Prince.’ Greg can be reached at email@example.com.