Ten years ago we moved out of London and I've barely been back since although I love the place. So on Monday I decided to go in for the day and visit my former place of work to stock up on Japanese food and ingredients.
When I worked at the Japan Centre it was very much a bookshop. I was assistant manager and book buyer and I loved my job. The staff were mainly young Japanese people and we all had a great relationship. Since I left about fifteen years ago the boss has diversified. Now the the Japan Centre consists of two buildings on Piccadilly (just near the tube and the big Waterstones). Shop one:
is now a food store selling Japanese ingredients, crockery, bread, snacks, lunches, tea and books in the basement. You can imagine that I went a bid mad in there:
I just had to have some onigiri (Japanese rice balls):
and as for inari zushi, my mouth was watering at the mere thought of them:
They are sort of tofu skins filled with rice and have a sweetish flavour.
I know Amber just loves anko (aduki bean paste) so I had to get a few of these:
which look like this inside - think this one had chestnuts inside too:
Next door (where the bookshop used to be) is now a restaurant. I haven't eaten there for months but I remember the quality to be excellent as well the prices. I think huge bowls of ramen (noodles) were about 7 or 8 pounds.
Both shops are well worth a visit if you are in London. You can have lunch in the restaurant or treat yourself to take away food and perhaps take it to nearby St James Church and eat in the courtyard:
I went inside afterwards and was treated to ten minutes of violin playing. He's the guy in black.
Better still St James Park which is quite close by:
I had such a lovely day pottering around on my own - no Oxford St or Convent Garden. Instead I ambled down Jermyn Street and up past the beautiful windows of Fortnum's:
a quick peek inside:
and then it was time to head home and do the school run.
Oh I forgot to tell you what I saw before I got to the shops. This lot coming out of St James Palace:
so I joined the tourists and snapped away:
Rejuvenated by London but with sore feet, armed with tons of goodies I got the train home and couldn't get my head around that girl who used to do this everyday fifteen to twenty years ago. Was it really me?
I decided that I need to do this more often.
You really should pay Japan Centre a visit. The address is: 212-213 Piccadilly and they appear to have a website now (click here). The (Japanese) Manager assures me that if anyone wants to order Japanese craft books and magazines he will be only to happy to try and get from Japan (as long as they're not out of print).