Last October half-term saw us escaping to Japan! Well kind of. We were invited for an exclusive tour and lunch at Ichiba – Europe’s largest Japanese Food Hall, London Westfield.
The 17,400 sq. ft. store features food stations dedicated to freshly prepared and cooked food including ramen, curries and sushi.
In addition, there are Japanese staples and kitchen essentials, as well as confectionery, alongside books, beauty products and handpicked ceramics.
From the outside Ichiba looks like a restaurant, but once you enter you will soon understand it is so much more than that. It took me a while to get around and explore all the parts of the European largest Japanese food hall and store in one.
The 17,400 sq. ft. flagship store features food stations dedicated to freshly prepared and cooked food including ramen, curries and sushi.
The main food hall offers a large range of Japanese staples and kitchen essentials, from rice, miso and tea, to a wide selection of sake and confectionery, alongside books, beauty products and handpicked ceramics from the leading craft prefectures.
Ichiba is the first joint venture between the Japan Centre Group and Cool Japan Fund, which helps support businesses to promote Japanese food and culture overseas.
The fund’s partnerships with local and artisan suppliers across Japan allows Ichiba to offer authentic products and rare regional produce from some of the best producers and farmers exclusively to the UK.
In-store experiences are also a key part of the new format concept. Theatrical kitchens are set around seating for over 200 covers with a changing schedule of weekly cooking demonstrations and workshops, events, regional food and drink festivals and sake tasting seminars.
Guests are also to dine in the outdoor terrace.
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Ichiba offers a contemporary twist on traditional Japanese elements with in-store surroundings to support the quality of the food. Japanese style paper structures, flags and traditional fabrics break up the space, while lights inspired by chopsticks, lanterns and traditional wooden elements help customers navigate the zones of the store.
Food stations offer everything from katsu curries to sushi and sashimi and authentic street food including takoyaki, tempura and noodles made fresh to order.
There is also a traditional Japanese bakery and café serving items such as dorayaki pancakes with teas including hot or iced matcha lattes.
Alongside, this there is a dedicated demo station for sake tastings and cooking demonstrations and a noodle bar where visitors can sample freshly prepared noodles and tonkotsu ramen.
Ichiba is a fantastic concept that offers visitors the opportunity to dine, shop and experience Japanese cuisine and culture with an element of theatre. We loved it!
Japan has always been on my bucket list, and this experience has undoubtedly given my family a taste of Japanese cuisine & culture without actually visiting the country. It has also made me realize I want to go there even more than before.
Love the concept and the amazing collection of all the Japanese products and experiences. Definitely, a great place to explore with your family. Go and visit Ichiba soon!