Not far from the Galleria Mall in Dallas lies a small shop and restaurant called Kazy’s Gourmet. About a 20-minute drive away from the University of Dallas, the shop is unique because it carries almost solely Japanese foodstuffs, alongside a few Hawaiian products.
The threshold of the place is not flashy. In fact, it seems to be a bit like a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. However, the amount of people in the shop proves that there is something going for this little place.
Upon walking in, one finds the place shockingly small. It isn’t much larger than PDK Foods. The shopper might feel that the place wasn’t worth stopping in after all. After an initial look around the shop, this idea begins to change.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference from the local Walmart is the inability to read most of the labels. The American shopper is forced to look for the small white labels with the English names of the products. Colorful Japanese characters decorate the many bottles of sauce and snacks, creating a study in Japanese advertisement design. Instead of Disney characters all over their merchandise, Hello Kitty and various anime characters adorn the packaging. It is possible even to buy Hello Kitty-shaped pasta.
The second noticeable difference is the foreign taste preferences. Some snacks, such as Oreos, originated in America, but their Japanese counterparts come in flavors including green tea. Seaweed and seaweed crackers, bags of dried anchovies and different shapes and sizes of rice crackers, can also be found at Kazy’s Gourmet.
Another difference is the contents of the freezers and refrigerators along the back wall. The shopper can discover pickled products such as plums and ginger, a variety of mochi desserts and quail eggs. Naturally, there is also an array of seafood.
An unusual feature of the store is the array of Japanese dishes and cookware. One could buy bamboo steamers and sushi roll mats along with tea sets and bento boxes. Next to the dishes, there is a variety of teas for any enthusiast: jasmine, ginseng and white tea sit on the shelves next to more varieties of green tea than most Americans know exist.
The small restaurant sells Japanese staples such as udon noodles, sushi and lunch bento. The restaurant is simple and unassuming, and it looks like a simple food bar in a mall. But unlike Kazy’s, most food bars in America won’t offer squid and eel as part of the menu. Nevertheless, the prices are low enough to sway a daring spirit.
“This is authentic.” Chinese exchange student Vicky Sun said of the udon. “Try some!”
The food is deliciously different, and many UD students go back again after the initial taste.
Kazy’s Gourmet is well worth a stop, even if it is only to try their sushi. As long as you are willing to overlook your first impressions, the store becomes a door to another culture.