Who in their right mind would name a supermarket Papaya Fresh Gallery? Were the founders obsessed with papaya? Was there some sort of secret marketing philosophy behind papaya the fruit? Was it simply because of its catchiness? Or perhaps it was simply to spark this kind of conversation?
To put things into perspective, perhaps one should remember that Japanese people are known for their originality, creativity, and pretty-out-there inventions. Coincidentally—or perhaps deliberately—the name Papaya represents those traits.
If you have been to Japan or done an extensive googling about modern Japanese culture, you would know that streets in Japan are lined with convenience market, or konbini for short. There are small family konbini, big chains konbini, liquor-only konbini, and many more. One original chain from Japan, Lawson, has spread its wings in Indonesia, but sadly its products are not different with ones offered at your next door Indomart or Alfamart.
That’s where Papaya Fresh Gallery comes in to fill the gap.
Papaya Fresh Gallery is a Japan-centric supermarket, selling imported products from Japan and specialty products that appeal to their target market, Japanese expats. The two outlets are located at areas densely populated with Nihon-jin: Little Tokyo, Melawai and Citywalk Sudirman. You can see Japanese-speaking people come and go at Papaya, bringing along their well-mannered kawaii kiddos, buying stuffs like Kewpie baby food and wagashi. For a while, it’s easy to forget that this is Jakarta.
The most interesting feature of Papaya Fresh Gallery has got to be the impressive rack of ready-to-eat bento and classic Japanese snacks. To name a few, there are onigiri—at least 8 types of them—yakimono, and fried korokke in different flavors. To fully embrace the attentive Japanese hospitality persona, Papaya is equipped with a microwave to heat your food. Hunger has no place here.
Eenie-meenie-miney-mo picks Stamina Yaki Bento for me to try, and it’s a great choice. The rice portion is generous and the side dishes are overall pleasing to my palate, particularly that diced pumpkin on the right corner of my bento. Yes, the beef could have been less chewy, but for the price tag, it’s hard to get a bento with the same amount and quality. Have Ebi Furai and Cheese Korokke on the side for some extra crunchy fried goodness that we all love!
Having sampled some of Papaya Fresh Gallery’s food and seen everything that it has to offer, I would love to come back soon to sample other bento types and scour the racks. Not to mention I’m never not in the mood for Kirin milk tea, readily available in rows at this supermarket!
P.S. Dear Sir or Madam who owns or founded Papaya, if you’re reading this, I’m still curious about the story behind the name. Can we talk? ?
Papaya Fresh Gallery, Little Tokyo (Melawai)
Address: Jl. Melawai Raya No. 28
Phone: (021) 72793777