Where to find Japanese shops in London?
Japanese foods are extremely popular today in London. Actually, recent data shows that the number of Japanese restaurants in central London is one of the largest among all types of non-British restaurants.
It's true that London is an international city where you can enjoy almost all kinds of restaurants from all over the world. In spite of such a competitive environment, Japanese cuisine already became one of the top choices for Londoners.
Back in 2010-ish, Japanese foods are anonymous for most people in London. They were mainly consumed by the Japanese in London (obviously) and other East Asians.
Today, we can find easily Japanese restaurants in central London. As a Japanese (writer), I wouldn't say all of them offer authentic Japanese foods. Having said that, its quality is getting much better than before.
Unlike the number of Japanese restaurants surged the last 10 years, Japanese shops are still not so familiar to those who love Japanese foods (can you name some?). The reason is obvious. There're still not many Japanese shops in London, unfortunately.
But, did you know about 30,000 Japanese live in London? Do you think they can survive without getting Japanese foods every day? Of course, not! They (secretly) do buy Japanese foods and cook at home (and not telling you where they are!)
Yes, there're Japanese shops in London. Not many, but they do exist.
If you don't have a Japanese friend, maybe you don't know where they are. If you're a Japanese food lover, that's too bad. This blog post is written by a 'real' Japanese (Londoner) and a complete guide about Japanese shops which Japanese Londoners use.
1. Japan Centre
Japan Centre is the oldest Japanese shop in London and possibly the same in Europe as well. It started as a Japanese book store (not a food supermarket) in 1976.
Japan Centre old days on Regent Street in the Mitsukoshi department store which is closed now. Currently, it's in Covent garden not too far from the old place.
Japan Centre offers Japanese food, sake, fresh bakery, hot meals as well. They are expanding the restaurant business aggressively recently. Shoryu (ramen) and Sakagura (Japanese restaurant & Sake bar)
Possibly Japan Centre has the largest sake collection in London. Needless to say, they have a wide range of Japanese food, seasoning, snack and so on. Recently, Japan Centre opened its new food hall called Ichiba in Westfield London and it's the largest Japanese food hall in Europe. This one is also a decent place to visit in London.
Here in Ichiba (means 'market' in Japanese), you can have Japanese fast foods such as Takoyaki (octopus ball).
Address: Japan Centre, Panton Street
35b Panton Street SW1Y 4EA, London
2. Rice Wine Shop
It's my favourite choice and most local Japanese in London says so. Why? It's because Rice Wine Shop offers the best price among Japanese shops in London.
The products Rice Wine Shop is selling are (more or less) the same as what Japan Centre sells and you can get them cheaper. Rice Wine Shop is located on Brewer Street, which is virtually 'Japanese' street in London (although sadly many Japanese shops on the street have been closed already).
Once you enter, you might be surprised by how small the shop is. Yes, it is very small and there's no stylish design or concept inside. It's simply a shop where products are packed as much as possible. For local Japanese in London, it's still just good enough. Japanese foods are not new to them and they don't expect the products to be displayed in a stylish way as well!
Probably, Japan Centre represents a Japanese shop in London, but Rice Win Shop represents 'Japanese shop for the Japanese' in London. Actually, there're always local Japanese shoppers there and staffs are Japanese as well (unlike Japan Centre which has more non-Japanese customers).
Address: Rice Wine Shop
82 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9UA
If you live in Acton or Finchley (of London), you probably know that is Japanese area of London. Both have a long history of the Japanese community and many Japanese expats and locals are living in the area.
West Acton has the biggest Japanese community in London where there is a Japanese school. You can always spot local Japanese near this tube station.
Naturally, there're some Japanese shops in there. Atari-ya is the most famous and oldest and most loved by local Japanese people in those areas.
Atari-ya also has a sushi-bar restaurant and its sushi & sashimi are arguably the best in London. They truly serve the freshest fish and worth a travel to visit.
Atari-ya has 3 branches in London
595 High Road, North Finchley, London, N12 0DY
7 Station Parade, West Acton, London, W3 0DS
15-16 Monkville Parade, Finchley Road, London, NW11 0AL
4. Natural Natural
Natural Natural is a mini grocery store where you can find all kinds of Japanese foods. The shop is quite small and its size is slightly bigger than Rice Wine Shop but it's a decent supermarket where you can find ready meal bento and fresh vegetables and so forth.
I would recommend Natural Natural because they offer great hot meals and especially onigiri rice balls. They're cheaper than other Japanese shops in London in general and have great quality as well.
Natural Natural has two branches in London. One in Ealing Common and another is in Finchley Road where many Japanese people live in.
If you live nearby, it will be your favourite Japanese shop in London.
Natural Natural - Finchley Road
1 Goldhurst Terrace, NW6 3HX, London
Natural Natural - Ealing Common
21 Station Parade, Uxbridge Road, Ealing Common W5 3LD, London
5. Minamoto Kitchoan
All 4 options above are basically Japanese supermarkets. If you love Japanese sweets (wagashi), did you know there's a place you can get an authentic one in London?
Minamoto Kitchoan is a Japanese confectionary manufacturer and store with a long history with many branches in Japan. Currently, they have two stores in central London.
Wagashi (Japanese sweets) you can get here has the exact same quality as in Japan as most items are directly sent from Japan. They are not only tasty also look so amazing.
I would recommend Dorayaki (red bean stuffed pancake) and mochi sweets here. Both of them are the kinds which represent Japanese sweets the most and also Minamoto Kitchoan's signature sweets.
This is Dorayaki (That famous anime Doraemon's favourite one)
They have a variety of Mochi sweets and normally it changes seasonally. So, you can enjoy a different one in each season.
Minamoto Kichoan Piccadilly
44 Piccadilly, London, W1J 0DS
Minamoto Kitchoan, Charing Cross
448 Strand, Charing, London, WC2R 0QU
In case you're looking for something other than foods (beauty items etc), unfortunately, these Japanese shops do not offer such things.
But, you still have an option to buy the latest trendy Japanese items online.
Thank you for reading!