Bento Shopping: Japan Centre, London
Japan Centre had long been known as THE place in the UK and throughout Europe as the place for all things Japanese, from foodstuff, homewares and stationery. There is even a small Japanese department store next door to it, selling handbags and the stuff. In the past few years, it had also been known as the place to get bento related stuff, from boxes to accessories and cutleries. They import a number of items from Daiso, therefore you can find a variety of accessories (i.e. onigiri shapers, egg moulds) that are stocked in regular Daiso stores for sale here.
In the name of ‘research’ , I paid a visit last weekend to Japan Centre. Located in the proximitiy of the world-famous Piccadilly Sq (somewhat like NYC’s Times Sq) the location is perfect for locals & visitors alike. The front part of the store stocks Japanese bakery items (i.e. breads, buns, cakes) and a hot food area selling karaage, korokke ect. There is also a small sashimi bar further inside, with the masters slicing up the fish to order. This is where I usually get my tobiko fix – however, we arrived too late and the sashimi bar was closed for business. On the plus side, the prepacked sushis (in a chiller) were 50% off, so it was salmon nigiri for breakfast the next day :).
The shop stocks staples like panko, dried noodles, and of course, bags of Japanese rice of all grades and sizes. It also stocks a large variety of pickles, miso, tofu, soya sauce – you name it, they probably sell it. They stock about 20 different types of furikake, my local chinese supermarket only stocks about 2. What I love most about Japan Centre is that their pricing is usually pretty decent, considering the quality and their location. Probably comparable with my local chinese supermarket, if not cheaper.
There is also an amazing array of bento boxes on sale. They even Face Food book on sale – woot! This is most definately a huge improvement from the last time I visited – they have non-Daiso bento boxes there and a couple of somber ‘male’ orientated bento boxes as well. A step in the right direction. Previously they stocked about 2-5 bento boxes, and usually at the £15-£20 mark. Bear in mind though that their online offerings are still slightly poor, there are only two urara bento boxes available for purchase. If you see something you like, I would recommend that you ring and speak to them.
I think this is possibly their Daiso corner. A large variety of onigiri shapers (I have nearly all of them) , some soy sauce fish, non-reusable cups, single layer bento boxes and inner dividers. There are also some ‘tools’ like microwave spaghetti cooker (which I own as well, thanks to a mad-chef cousin), tamagoyaki pans, a sushi mats and nigiri shapers amongst other funky things. I am dead pleased with this – this just shows that Japan Centre is
You know what was the best part of it all? I walked away with nothing but some udon, somen & miso. No bento toys at all. So proud 🙂
Japan Centre Group Ltd
14 – 16 Regent St.