Last year in Matsushiro 4 chome, a small shopping center opened with the Plechef grocery store, Andersenfs bakery, and Herb Patio. Plechef (pronounced here as Puruchez) offers a wide variety of hard to find imported foods and organically grown goods as well as regular grocery items. Prices generally are lower than Seibu for imported food, and parking is certainly more convenient. In addition, the staff are helpful , can be easily located in the store and will try to answer questions you may have in English.
The produce section features fresh herbs and high quality produce. At times bargains on imported fruits and other foods are excellent and comparable to bargain prices at usual grocery stores. Pleasant suprises have included various jams, marshmallows, ovaltine, coffee, sparkling grape and apple juice among others. It offers the widest selection of cheeses I have seen in Tsukuba with some cheese spreads and herbed margarines as well.
The Italian selection is also noteable for a wide variety of pasta including lasagna noodles, sauces, and olive oil, and these items are regulary on sale. Mexican food makings can be found, which are also available at the Kasumi store. Various other ethnic foods, such as authentic Indian and Chinese cooking ingredients and mixes, can also be found.
The spice selection is excellent, and more are available across the street at the Herb Patio. Recently, the cereal section was expanded to include various granola and muesli mixes as well as the best buy on bran flakes in town - Weetaflakes, a 500 g box a little over 500 yen. The nicest part about that is that the store manager responded to our request for this item, and started to carry it. If you want to request a particular item, it is best to write down what you want, and expect a wait if, in fact, the supplier can find it. For true bran fans, a machine near the registers takes the bran off of the rice and it can be scooped out for 50 yen a bag. No more case orders of bran and cereal to store for months for health conscious consumers and bakers!
The pastry and bread at Andersen's reminds me of a summer stay in Denmark and can be sampled before buying. Whole wheat sandwich bread, also a response to a request, and a number of darker rye type breads are sold by whole and half loaves which they will slice on request. Lunch offerings include a variety of made-to-order deli sandwiches as well as ready-made and can be enjoyed inside, or on the patio next to the outdoor herb garden. On a sunny day, this is a favorite of mom's who can catch a cup of coffee and chat with a friend while kids play safely.
In the Herb Patio is a flower shop and lots of gift items including herbal teas, dishes, and at Christmas, lots of decorations. There is also space there to enjoy a peaceful cup of tea.
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