The upscale supermarket – established in 1910 as a fruit merchant in Aoyama, Tokyo – has 34 stores in total, mainly outlets inside train stations retailing ready-to-eat foods and speciality bakes around Tokyo.
Its first pop-up venue here is at the Japan Rail Cafe at Guoco Tower in Tanjong Pagar. A second one opened last Friday (March 5) at department store Isetan Scotts’ supermarket. Both pop-up stores will run till March 18.
A small selection of its bestsellers in Japan are available here, along with its signature eco-friendly bags. These include strawberry butter ($13.50), made with Japanese strawberries, to slather on bread or pancakes; and premium truffle soya sauce ($20.50), a blend of white olive oil, French black truffles and Japanese soy sauce, to drizzle over salads and egg dishes.
Also on sale are chilli oil shrimp crackers ($10.70) and a drinking yuzu vinegar concentrate ($21.70). At the Japan Rail Cafe location, diners can try the vinegar by ordering the Fruity Vinegar Fizz ($10) drink – in yuzu, pomegranate or lemon flavours.
Limited stock of the vinegar drinks, along with Kinokuniya’s pancake mix made from Hokkaido flour, are also sold on e-commerce platform Shopee – via the JW360 Degree Nomono site.
The JW360 Degree multi-concept food destination at Jewel Changi Airport is operated by the JR East Group. The group is under the East Japan Railway Company that acquired the Kinokuniya chain in 2010 and runs Japan Rail Cafe.
While the brand remains focused on domestic expansion in Japan, the East Japan Railway Company Singapore’s director, Mr Hiroyuki Hayashi, says he will consider future developments based on the response to the pop-up here.
On picking Singapore for its debut pop-up, he adds: “Many Japanese food-related companies have already entered the market and Singaporeans are familiar with our food culture. We felt that Singapore was a promising market.
“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the need for home-cooked and delivered food is increasing in Japan and we believe there are similar trends in other countries. We want to bring Kinokuniya products to the dining tables in Singapore.”
Text: Eunice Quek/The Straits Times