Some of the best places to do gourmet foodspotting in Japan are the food sections of major department stores, which are normally located in the basement level. Yennie Cheung of the blog International Gluttony does a great overview of these depachika, which she describes as “essentially like supermarket delis, except that these would make Whole Foods weep with inadequacy.”
The one my family and I have gone to relatively frequently is in the Mitsukoshi Department store in Ginza, conveniently connected to the Metro station. It is a wall-to-wall Versailles of high quality, spectacularly presented food — European-style pastries and baked goods, chocolates, some of the most immaculate looking fruit you will ever see in your life, a broad selection of Asian and European cuisines, and much more. You really have to be careful not to drool over everything you see.
Items tend to be on the pricey side, as you would expect from an upscale retailer. But we always seem to buy something from the European-style bakery there, Johan, which makes great bread, croissants, and other pastries. They offer some sort of “bread of the day” (at least on the weekends) and there are often a lot of people waiting in line to pick some up.
Of course, any of the Japanese departments stores (especially the high end ones such as Mitsukoshi and Takeshimaya) will have depachika like this. So if you happen to see one while you’re hanging out in Japan, definitely check it out.Mitsukoshi Department Store 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo