There’s so much more than just sushi (Picture: Stephen Joyce)
The Tokyo Olympics might be closed to spectators, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to create an authentic Japanese experience.
And what better way to immerse yourself in a culture than trying some of their delicious cuisine — right here in the capital.
We’ve already done a bit of snooping around and found some of the best spots to enjoy sushi, ramen and udon noodles — or if you prefer, tips for how to prepare them at home.
Marugame Udon, Spitalfield
Go nuts for noodles
What is it? Marugame is the first UK opening of a Japanese chain that specialises in handmade udon noodles. Set up in 2000, there are now 1,200 branches worldwide, with 800 in Japan alone.
Where can I find it? The 100-seater restaurant is just a few moments from Liverpool Street station.
Tell us more: The chain is named after the city of Marugame in the Kagawa prefecture. Udon noodles are made from a special combination of flour – which is imported to use in the London branch — and salinewater. This gives the noodles a different texture, making them very chewy and springy.
Anything else? There will be 12 or so dishes from £3.45, such as simple ‘kake’, noodles served in broth and ‘beef nikutama’, served with caramelised onion and a poached egg. You’ll also be able to customise your dish with extras like ginger and spring onions.
Opening July 26, visit the website here
Japan Centre, multiple locations
Centre of attraction
London’s Japan Centre celebrates its 45th birthday this month with a range of activities at its food outlets in Leicester Square and Westfield.
There are offers on many products, from sushi rice to sake, as well as online recipes and cook-along videos for dishes such as steamed BBQ pork buns, and matcha and white chocolate cookies.
Step up to the plate
(Picture: Brian Dandridge)
Apothecary is a new izakaya (a Japanese-style pub) in Shoreditch dedicated to drinking, music and small plates.
The cocktail list combines classics with Asian influences, such as the whisky highball (made using Toki whisky, soda and genmaicha tea), while dishes will include grilled skewers, sushi and steamed buns.
Recipe for success
A Wagamama fan? Put September 2 in your diary — that’s when new book Wagamama Your Way (Octopus Books) is published.
It will contain new healthy recipes reflecting its ethos of flexitarian meals, plant-basedingredients and Asian flavours, from vegan katsucurry to prawn tempura ramen.
Inspired by Japanese tea ceremonies? These quirky beverages could be just your cup of tea….
Just the tonic
Kitty McEntee has a new range of teas, including Unplugged, with lavender, chamomile and hawthorn, to help sleep, and Pow, with ginger, lemongrass and chilli, to boost energy.
Buy online or try at Lab Tonica tea bar at Gazelli House spa in west London.
Knoops specialises in chocolate drinks and recently opened a new store in Chelsea, with one in Brighton to follow.
Its flakes, for perfect hot chocolate, come in varieties including ruby chocolate, white chocolate and 70% extra dark.
Ueshima Coffee Company
Smell the coffee
Japan’s Ueshima Coffee Company has launched in the UK.
Established in Kobe in 1933, it consists of three blends, Tokyo Roast, House Blend and Fuji Mountain, available as beans, roast and ground, as well as Nespresso compatible capsules.
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