Ever been stuck looking for an elusive ingredient for Japanese or Korean cooking and the supermarket chains just won't do? Need a quick takeaway lunch when you need to just grab something fast? If you work near Town Hall, this small supermarket filled to the brim with delicacies, chocolates and some fast food options is an oasis for busy city workers and home cooks.
This store seems to be known by a number of names including Conbini 8, Convenience Store 8 and Japanese Asian Grocery 8. We know it as a favourite spot for Japanese groceries and unusual Kit Kat flavours.
We love the store for it's quick and easy to grab n go lunchtime items. Mostly up on the check out counter and limited.
Spam onigiri, $2. A favourite filling in Hawaii, it's been creeping into more and more Japanese style quick takeaways. Also available at Dragon Boy in World Square.
Grain onigiri $2. Mix of barley, red rice and small grains, a nutty combo that is offset by the sweet pickle inside.
Kara Tama Don Bento $4.95. Chicken, egg, onion, rice, ginger and stewed radish. Bento boxes are made downstairs at Momiji Japanese Takeaway. At between $4.95 and $6.95, they are a lunch time bargain, and you won't have to queue downstairs at the foodcourt to get one.
Korean Jap Che or japchae, a mix of clear noodles and vegetables, is often up at the counter lunch specials. At only $2 for a small box, another lunchtime bargain. Team up with an onigiri for a cheap and filling lunch.
Korean Kimbimbab, about $3. This long sushi style roll is filled with omelette, pickled radish, crab (well more like seafood extender) and fish cake, pre sliced for easy chopstick action.
One of the reasons to come here is for the large range of imported chocolates and sweets, including Pocky, Pretz, Kit Kats, Meiji chocolate and Milky. The store celebrates with special displays for Asian chocolate loving holidays White Day (14 March) and Pocky Day (11 November).
Besides the wonderful Green Tea Kit Kats well known to Japanophiles, these green tea alternative versions of Crunch and Aero were recently available. At $10.80 a bag they are pricy, but luckily you can try and ration out small pieces.
There's a large range of frozen goods available including cod roe and other fish, ramen, soba and udon noodles, small packets of croquettes (just one or two in a packet), burdock root, edamame, natto, Japanese sausages, gyoza and fish cakes. At the front entrance of the store is a case full of Korean ice creams, including our favourite Melona red bean fish shaped waffle.
In the fridge section are takana pickles, kimchi, seaweed salad and a large range of misos in all their wonderful palate of shades of red, white and brown. There are multiple packets of ready made ginger pickles on the shelves including the well known pink versions, long yellow pickled daikon radish and bright red and green vegetable pickles.
All the standards needed to cook Japanese homestyle favourites are here, including golden packet curry sauce, mentaiko spaghetti, bulldog sauce for tonkatsu, panko crumbs, shichimi togarashi (seven flavour chilli pepper) and furikake. Furikake is one of those magic nothing into something ingredients to have on hand, a mix of chopped seaweed, dried fish and sesame seeds that turns a plain bowl of rice into a feast.
A Korean delight from the snack food section near the front of the store, roasted butter squid.
There's Korean staples as well of gochujang, the hot pepper paste that gives bibimbab that wonderful heat. We once spent a night in Vietnam with a Korean guy called Mr Kim eating fresh vegetables dipped in gochujang he had brought with him on his holiday, all washed down with many shots of whisky. Mr Kim was a master of making friends, especially with Japanese girls.
Friendly faces help make searching for a mystery ingredient easy. The signs around the store are bright and helpful too, with a lot of translations of groceries and suggestions of what to buy.
Look for their specials on certain days or when clearing out stock.
Convenience Store 8 is at 303 Pitt Street inside the Pittsway Arcade. Enter via Pitt St or through George Street via the Woolworths back entrance.