Nippan Daido Japanese Market
By Christina Autry
Weekends are for cream puffs at Nippan Daido Japanese grocery store.
Come around noon on a Saturday or Sunday, and grab a freshly made cookie cream puff and a chocolate cream puff. Word on the street is that if you come past 2:00 or 3:00, they could be sold out. Grab some extra for a friend, they'll love you for it.
Nestled at the corner of Westheimer and Wilcrest is the first and oldest Japanese grocery store in Houston: Nippan Daido. This small store prides itself on providing specialty Japanese products that cannot be found at any other Asian market in Houston. You're not guaranteed to find the largely popular food trends here, such as sushi and ramen. Customers come here for very specific Japanese products, such as a particular brand of Japanese soy sauce. They come for the sushi-grade fish, which promises that you can eat it straight out of the package, if you so choose! And did I mention the cream puffs? Those have been a huge hit with the local community for years.
The two Japanese grocery stores in Houston, Nippan Daido, and the new Seiwa Market (find out about our visit to Seiwa here) together serve the roughly 6,000-person, tight-knit Japanese community in Houston. Daido was first established in New York in 1969, and arrived in Houston in the 90's. Houston has proven to be a more challenging market for Japanese food as compared to New York, in which the Japanese population is in the tens of thousands. However, Daido has seen the Houston market slowly gaining more knowledge and interest in authentic Japanese food, due to increased popularity nationwide and due to media such as YouTube, which tends to bring in customers looking for fun and interesting Japanese snacks. Bento boxes/bowls, Takoyaki, and rice balls are some of the other ready-made foods Houstonians seek out at Daido.
Stop by (preferably when they're serving cream puffs) and check out the store that the local Japanese community has been shopping at for 30 years.
Green Tea (Matcha) is a popular Japanese flavor that finds itself in a huge variety of sweet snacks and drinks. Here you can see Matcha Pocky sticks, Hello Kitty marshmallows with matcha jelly, Matcha Oreos, and Hello Panda matcha cookies (all from Nippan Daido).