Finding good quality cheese a challenge in Japan

As a major foodie living in Japan, I have always had difficulty finding good quality cheese at the store. Cheese at the local supermarket is usually processed and import stores charge an arm and a leg for just a morsel.

Craving good deli-style cheese, I found Bert’s Boerenkaas, an award-winning Dutch cheese farm that delivers to Japan.

“Boeren” means cheese and “kaas” means farm in Dutch. The pictures looked definitely mouthwatering, and prices don’t break the bank, so I ordered a sampler set.

Three large triangle blocks of cheese arrived vacuum-sealed in a wrapped and chilled thermo bag a few days later. They smelled amazing and I brought them to a nabe (Japanese hot pot) party with a group of friends. We had kimchi-flavored nabe and cut cheese triangles into the pot. The cheese tasted incredible and was a definitely a huge hit at the party. Everyone was reminded of wonderful delicious melted cheese from home.

Bert’s Boerenkaas offers a variety of aged cheese ranging from one month to twelve months. The younger cheeses are creamy and mild, while the older cheeses have a sharp and rich flavor. Both are perfect for sandwiches, pizza, cooking, and snacks.

Aged cheese in Japan usually goes for 2,000 yen for 300 grams, but Boerenkaas offers almost double the portions with 500 grams at a fraction of the price.

Shipping to Japan is a bit pricey, but you do save a trip to the supermarket and ordering in bulk with other cheese lovers is highly recommended. Hard to find tools in Japan such as cheese slicers, knives, graters are also available for sale.

Bert’s Boerenkaas only accepts PayPal at the moment, but will accept all currencies at their Euro value.

  • 0

    shirokuma2011

    You can buy at Costco, prices a little better than in the overpriced gourmet supermarkets like Seijo Ishii and The Garden, and The Meat Guy has a few varieties at even more reasonable prices.

  • -5

    BertieWooster

    Make your own.

    It's not that difficult.

  • 6

    cleo

    'Good, deli-style cheese' and he chucked it in a kimchi nabe???

  • 1

    VicMOsaka

    I have a friend who brings me a 500 gram block of Tasty Cheddar from New Zealand for around Yen 420.

  • 3

    Harry_Gatto

    Good, deli-style cheese' and he chucked it in a kimchi nabe???

    Yes Cleo, I wondered about that too. It's the last thing I would do with some decent cheese.

  • 5

    zichi

    Most import shops are good and there's the Foreign Buyers Club in Kobe. http://www.fbcusa.com/general-store-and-deli/cheese-and-crackers/cheese.html

  • -3

    BertieWooster

    I don't know who the guys who gave me "bad" marks.

    But it REALLY isn't difficult to make cheese at home.

    Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Cheddar, Stilton, whatever.

    MUCH better than shop bought cheese at a quarter of the price.

    You can get cultures and rennet at http://www.cheesemaking.com.

    Tell them BertieWooster sent you!

  • 3

    Scrote

    Kaas means cheese and Boeren means farmers.

    Can you get around the 35% tariff on imported cheese if you have someone post it to you, or do they check every package?

  • 1

    Meguroman

    Sure, I can make my own beer, cheese, yogurt, butter, bread, pasta, clothing, furniture, movies..... And I have, but I have better things to do. Even Daiei & Tokyu are getting better with cheese selections. If I want something special I can go to Eataly, Nat'l Azabu, Nissen, The Meat Guy, FBC.…

  • 0

    edojin

    I'm satisfied with the quality of the cheese I get here in the Tokyo area. And I can obtain it quite easily as there are quite a few specialized cheese shops in various locations plus many local supermarkets now carry various kinds of cheese. What I'm worried about is the price rising on European & American cheeses as the value of the yen moves into a price-increasing area.

    I have no access to Costco outlets ... and I used to have connections with Zichi's Foreign Buyers Club in Kobe (mentioned above) until my friend, who regularly shopped from there, passed away. So these sources for cheese and other goodies are out of the picture for me.

    Anyway ... love my cheeses ...

  • 1

    gaijintraveller

    Surely a cheese gourmet would not put quality cheese into a kimchi nabe?

    Does anyone know where one can get good British cheeses like Shropshire Blue, Blue or even white Cheshire, Perl Wen, Derby Sage and so on. Occasionally, one can find a Stilton, but there is so much more these days.

    BertieWooster, thanks, I have bookmarked your link.

    There are actually some excellent Japanese cheeses available, but not from the big milk companies. I am talking about artisan cheesemakers. They are good, but expensive.

  • 0

    Chikuyokei

    to edojin:

    No need to have access to Costco outlets or be a Costco member for their cheese or other goodies - Yoyo Market and Flying Pig can get Costco products for you and deliver them to your door here in Japan. Yoyo is a bit cheaper delivery-wise -product prices are similar.

  • 2

    Cos

    Easy, depachika, import shops, online stores (many, browse in Japanese), and only if you need to buy regularly large amounts direct import (Paris food market offers great deals to restaurants)... You pay the exotism tax.

    “kaas” means farm in Dutch

    Oh, we are taught about Dutch cheese by a guy that doesn't know how to say cheese in Dutch ?

    aged cheese ranging from one month to twelve months.

    Twelve months is just matured. For Europeans, aged Holland starts at 18 months. 2 yr and 3 yr old are better.

    But it REALLY isn't difficult to make cheese at home.

    To make cheese, it is easy... but quality cheese is an art. I have relative that did (and some still do) as a job, in different regions, they can possibly make only one type of cheese and being at the standard is hard work. I'm a big adept of DIY, but you need to stay a minimum humble about certain products.

    Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Cheddar, Stilton, whatever.

    You don't make the mentioned cheese but some vague imitations. You don't even have the proper cultures (gorgonzola and roquefort are not made with the same at all). You don't have the proper milk for what you claim. The "quality cheese" have to be made with a certain type of milk, in certain seasons, certain cows made to eat differently and they have in many cases geographical condition (there is no Brie made outside the Brie region, idem for Stilton). Even if you make your "Nihon cheese" , you have to stick to non-aged types, unless you have a cellar (underground, constant humidity and temperature year round). You have such a cellar in Okinawa ? Those caves we see in the Iwojima Letters movie ?

    MUCH better than shop bought cheese

    At your taste. Sometimes delusion is a good thing. Well avoid ever buying the real version in the shop so you can keep believing.

    at a quarter of the price.

    If you bought unprocessed milk in Japan, that would be 300~600 yen per liter. So you use that "Meg Milk" ? Even the kombini cheese is made from better ingredients. Well, you don't come to Japan for the cheese. Like you don't go to Switzerland for the sushis and seafood, or to Bali for the wine. It's already great that we can import so many exotic things.

  • -1

    Philomena Marino

    I swear this is one of the reasons I decided not to move to Japan permanently . As a foodie ,missing out on some of my favorite foods,was just .....to hard for me . And the inability to get Italian cheeses, and cheddar ,means I cannot even make a true good pasta or Mac and cheese . This is why pizza there is just not the greatest . They don't real mozzarella to work with . Here,I buy homemade mozzarella .....just....too hard to give up !

  • -3

    BertieWooster

    Philomena Marino-san,

    They don't real mozzarella to work with. Here, I buy homemade mozzarella .....just....too hard to give up!

    That's right. They don't have good Mozzarella. They also use horrible, cheap flour for the dough and bake it (usually) in an ultra clean stainless steel "oven," with disgusting, tasteless olive oil.

    Mozzarella is one of the easiest cheeses to make.

    All you need is good quality milk, citric acid (available at any drugstore) and rennet.

    It tastes so good!

  • -4

    BertieWooster

    Cos,

    Your imagination is running overtime.

    You don't make the mentioned cheese but some vague imitations.

    How would you know?

    Have you tried my cheese?

    You don't even have the proper cultures (gorgonzola and roquefort are not made with the same at all).

    Who said anything about gorgonzola and roquefort?

    I certainly didn't.

    You don't have the proper milk for what you claim.

    Again, how would you know?

    You would be amazed at what you can make at home.

    Believe me, I am very choosy when it comes to food, especially cheese. Which is why I decided to try and make my own.

  • 0

    timeon

    I am not a cheese maniac, but I'm a frequent consumer of cheese because I'm a frequent consumer of wine :) For my relatively unpretentious palate, the Seijoishii nearby is more than enough. Hard cheese for me, Parmigiano Reggiano and Mimolette are the favorites, sometimes Edam, Emmentaler. Gouda and Cheddar are cheap at Ishii

  • 0

    Aaron Kaemmerer

    The Sanwa supermarket next to Kodomonokuni Sta. has a good variety of bulk (1kg?) cheezus.

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