Best Markets: M2M
Banchan at M2M Mart
Best Markets: In which we explore some of the most interesting food shops in the city.
M2M (Morning to Midnight) Market is a Japanese convenience store/fast-food udon/soba/sushi shop. The selection isn't nearly as quality as Sunrise Mart, just up the street, but M2M is a good stop for prepared and convenience foods. Along with a wide assortment of dried and frozen noodles, gyoza, rice crackers, sauces and other convenience foods, it also carries American 7-Eleven staples, like cookies, Lean Cuisine, energy bars, etc.
Because M2M seems to want to be accessible to NYU students of all stripes, the Japanese (and some Korean) groceries are labeled very clearly, making it a good stop if you want to get in and out quickly and don't have time for a fun, leisurely poke around Sunrise Mart.
The counter dosing out soba, udon and sushi is serviceable but not fantastic, and the produce section is meager, so it's pretty much all about the prepared foods and the snacks. Check out the refrigerators that line the walls.
Dried squid banchan: Find these in the refrigerated section near the big vats of kimchi. These chewy, slightly sweet strips of lacquered, dried squid taste mildly fishy and are one of my favorite Korean side dishes.
Stewed lotus root banchan: Also in the refrigerated section with all the other plastic packs of Korean side dishes, the stewed lotus root is crunchy and honeyed. For a quick, simple supper, steam some white rice and have this (and any other banchan you like) on the side.
Stewed tofu: Check out the big plastic containers full of sliced tofu napped with a flavorful paste of hot pepper, scallion, garlic and sesame seeds. This dish is eaten cold, so grabbing a package turns out to be incredibly convenient for a quick, light meal. I eat it right out of the pack.
$3.49/approximately a pound
Kasugai gummies: God, I love these. They come in pineapple, muscat grape, kiwi and other artificially fruity flavors. I don't know what they do to these to make them taste so much better than other gummy candies--the texture hits an addictive chewy/soft balance, and the flavors are great. If you are a gummy candy fan, you have to try them.
Umeboshi: These small magenta balls are Japanese pickled plums. Purée half of one with some white miso, sesame seed, ginger, oil and rice vinegar for a salad dressing. Or, drop one in a chilled glass of sake or sochu.
Shinakiku brand, $4.99/8.46 ounces
Salmon and tuna sashimi quality fillets: When you consider that one piece of salmon sushi costs at least two or three dollars, you're better off buying the pristine, sushi-quality fish here and making your own at home.
M2M Mart has two locations. The Broadway branch is uptown near Columbia; I've only been to the downtown branch, so can't vouch for the uptown one.
200 E 11th Street