Saturday, 6 April 2013

Onigiri and The Japan Centre

If you go to London town and you fancy a little twist of something Japanese in your day, make sure to head down to The Japan Centre which is located right down the bottom end of Regent Street which is the quieter end away from Piccadilly and happen to have an array of Japanese stores, cafes and spas so it is worth a little gander if you fancy seeing something a little different.

I often take a gander there when I can as The Japan Centre have evolved from a small on line and street shop to a proper market, offering all things authentically Japanese and selling goods from the far east that you don't often get to see in person or online.

What more, they are pretty reasonable in price which is a bonus!

They now have a wonderful on site restaurant and food court where you can pick up japanese food to go and see for yourself just how quick, tasty and easy it is to eat japanese style!
Seeing this, I decided to pick up a piece of Onigiri, a popular snack  known mostly for its convenience of being able to eat on the go with flavoursome fillings.

I got the tradition pickled plum (or known as ume)  rice ball  wrapped in nori seaweed and its actually a chunky little thing to have in your hands! Already I'm thinking it will have you full up in no time!

Onigiri/rice ball isn't actually sushi is made with vinegar, sugar and salt whilst the rice here is simply salted a little and pressed into shape. You can see the pink ume plum filling already and the nori is packed separately so you can eat it with or without which is a nice touch as many people are put off by can be an acquired taste.

I couldn't finish all the rice ball...I was right in saying the little thing really does fill you up in a few mouthfuls!
The pickled plum isn't too much to my taste in all honesty, I've tasted a few in the past and this one is rather salty and got lost amongst the taste of the rice. Its OK but I rather would have liked a touch or wasabi somewhere for a little kick and flavour diversity. I could see myself dunking this into a large pot of soy sauce and enjoying this but on it's on...I think I rather have sushi or something else. At least I gave it a go and here in the UK, getting a chance to pick up a piece of Onigiri is quite rare as these aren't often made in restaurants.

The Japan Centre is really worth a look around! The aisle upon aisle of foods and sweets is really quite a visual treat and you are bound to come across something you want to take away and try at home. There's sushi kits, bento lunch boxes, home ware items, loads of magazines and books and a nice array of beauty products which I picked up a few things (like rice paper to clear your greasy skin...they do the best!)
You can also see a wide variety of sake including ceremonial barrels that are traditionally smashed open at ceremonies which was nice to see.

I also managed to pick up a few rare and hard to find books as well so Japan Centre has been pretty lucky in their sourcing!
What I like about this place to is you can get a chance to pick up some sweets and goods that appear in cult that distinctive tin of hard sweets seen in the ever amazing studio ghibli film "Graveyard of the fireflies" right down to the brand of ramen usually scoffed by Inuyasha!

If you like things Japan, then this is a stop in London I recommend you make!

You can check out more here on the Japan Centre website

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