Tokyo To Go: FAMIMA!! Opens in Santa Monica

— by Caroline on Crack

Japanese to go

I’ve seen this store in WeHo and always wondered what it was, not being able to tell just from looking at it. I assumed it was an IKEA-type furniture store just from the outside with its clean design and big well-lit rooms. But the other day when I was on 3rd Street Promenade trying to decide what I wanted for lunch–something fast that wasn’t a hamburger–I came across this big white sign over a storefront just inserted in the Santa Monica Boulevard-Arizona block of the outdoor mall.

Oooh! something new! From the outside it looked like a convenience store of some sort. The sign that listed paninis, salads, sushi, etc. intrigued me. And then when I saw the chicken curry in fried rice bread display on the counter where a 7-11 would have a hot dog heater, I knew I was in the right place.

This 3rd Street Famima, which just opened last week, was packed for a small store but I was able to get around the milling tourists and indecisive shoppers to check out the food in the refrigerated grocery-store-type display. There was something for every degree of hunger pang, from vegetable sticks to a Western Bento box. There are also panini sandwiches which the nice cashiers offer to grill for you. Other refrigerated foods can be microwaved on site if you want a heated something to go.

In the refrigerated drink section, there were lots of green tea and something called gel drinks. The little frozen food section had mochi to go. I felt like I was in Tokyo again.

I almost went for the chicken curry hot pocket ($1.80) but my friend got that so I decided on a small Thai salad with grilled chicken ($4.20) and a steamed pork bun ($1.95) to be semi-healthy. But after I took a sample bite from my friend’s chicken curry bread pocket, I regreted my decision. It was so yummy! I wanted my own. Oh well, next time.

The Famima Web site says that the plan is to open a store in “areas with high living standards.” So far L.A. has the WeHo, Westwood and Santa Monica locations with plans to open 17 more in Downtown L.A., Glendale, Hollywood, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena and Torrance. And by 2009 Famima wants to have 250 of these premium grocer/convenience store/quick service restaurants across the nation. But for some reason they started their Japanese 7-11 invasion in L.A. Yay for us!

Now I have a place to go to for my Pocky stick and/or salmon rice ball fix.

Open 7 days a week from 6am to 2am

1348 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-2486

PS: I went back for the chicken curry bread pocket and it was SO GOOD! OMG, yes. I ended up spending about $13 on food there: salmon rice ball ($1.20), bowl of pad thai ($4.50 but not so good) and, of course, a little chocolate swirl cake ($2.55) in addition to a bottle of iced green tea and that curry pocket. When I was deciding on what to get for dessert, I couldn’t make up my mind. They had all these little portable containers of sweets to go which included things like green tea mousse, mango pudding, almond tofu, and even tiramisu.