Author Archives | Japan Centre

What is Miso and What are the Different Types?


If you are a fan of Japanese food and cuisine, or even if you have travelled to Japan, it is pretty certain that you have tried miso soup before. You may have tried instant miso, ready in less than a minute and available in a variety of flavours. Alternatively, you may have prepared “proper” miso, using miso paste. Or you may have been served a bowl along with your Japan Centre lunch. But how familiar are you with how miso is made and the ways in which the different types of miso are used?

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Collect Your Japan Centre Online Orders From Our Acton Shop!


After a number of requests, we can finally give you guys the chance to pick up your online orders directly from the Japan Centre North Acton Shop. No more worries about being at home and waiting for the postman to arrive. No more problems with the courier company tickling your door with a feather, stuffing a “Sorry you were out” note through your door and then escaping at high speed before you can get to the door! Just a simple and hassle-free way for you to get your favourite Japanese foods, when you want.

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Share The Love at Toku Restaurant for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of the many days of the year where you can get into some serious trouble with your other half if you don’t put some effort in to spend a relaxing and romantic evening together!

Why don’t you let Toku Restaurant take the weight off your shoulders and help you plan a perfect evening! We have a special 7 course ‘Gozen’ Valentine’s Day menu just for you which is full of amazingly elegant, delicious and healthy Japanese food such as sushi, sashimi, tempura, beef tataki, a Japanese dessert and and a sake or plum wine aperitif. Did you know that in Japan, they say that octopus sashimi is quite the aphrodisiac too! :)

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COMPETITION: Hyper Japan is Back for 2012… And We Have Tickets To Give Away Again!

Hyper Japan is back again for another long weekend of amazing Japan-osity at the UK’s biggest J-culture party! Hyper Japan are so excited about this year’s event, they even forgot it’s usually held in the summer and instead are having the event from the 24th to 26th February 2012! Good news for us anyway, just means that that we can have some serious Japan related fun sooner than we thought! :)

Japan Centre also has a pair of tickets to give away to a lucky winner so you can enjoy all the awesomeness of the event for absolutely nothing, yatta! Continue reading for more details of Hyper Japan 2012 and how to enter the free ticket competition!

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Come Get Some Rice!

Rice is rice, right? Well, when you eat rice three times a day like many Japanese people, differences in aroma, taste and texture become much more noticeable. Even I can taste the difference between a standard variety of rice and its high quality counterpart!

If you are interested in seeing what the difference is between different strains of Japanese rice, be sure to pop along to Japan Centre Regent Street store this weekend for a free sample! We will have a variety of different Japanese rice available which you can try and find out which is the most delicious. We also have a sale on many brands of Japanese rice, so it’s a great chance to stock up on some rice for that sushi party you have been promising for ages! We can even give you some tips on how to cook Japanese sticky rice perfectly at home, as well as adding sushi vinegar so you can use it to create your own sushi.

Japan Centre
14-16 Lower Regent Street

Friday 27th Jan: 4pm – 7pm
Saturday 28th Jan: 3pm – 7pm
Sunday 29th Jan: 3pm – 7pm

We look forward to seeing you at Japan Centre this weekend!

Ramen Noodles: Fast Food or Gourmet Dining?

You know how sometimes you just want to eat something quick and easy? For example, even though that expertly grilled medium rare sirloin steak is some of the most delicious, tender and tasty beef available, sometimes a cheeseburger from McDonald’s is just what the doctor ordered (well, probably not my doctor, but you know what I mean)!

Instant ramen are like the cheap and cheerful cheeseburger of the noodle world. Quick and easy to prepare, suitably satisfying for our taste buds and never too expensive. Real ramen from an authetic Japanese ramen bar are also suitably delicious, but that is where the similarities end! Read on and find out why everyone at Japan Centre can’t get enough of the amazing taste of lovingly prepared, high quality ramen noodles!

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COMPETITION: Win Tickets to See ‘The Bee’ at Soho Theatre

Win Tickets for The Bee

The Bee is the latest production at Soho Theatre in London from the legendary Japanese playwright Hideki Noda. Famous for bringing Japanese plays to a larger international audience, Noda’s work has a contemporary style with a unique Japanese touch, making this play a fantastic spectacle that is suitable for everyone!

Japan Centre has a pair of tickets to give away so you can see this show in London and experience Noda’s exciting world of Japanese theatre. Read on for more details of the play and how to win tickets!

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Top 5: Weirdest Japanese Food!

Bizarre, disgusting, gross, an ‘acquired taste’… all completely valid ways to describe some of these Japanese delicacies, but ‘weird’ is definitely one suitable word that comes to mind! Being British and coming from a country that is internationally recognised as having rather bland cuisine, this Japanese food can certainly seem a little intense for my taste. Of course, that’s not to say that they aren’t delicious, just… different!

Read on to find out what we at Japan Centre think are the top 5 weirdest Japanese food!

5. Basashi Ice

Basashi Raw Horse Meat Sashimi Flavoured Ice Cream

We’re going backwards and starting this list with a dessert. You may have heard of basashi before, sashimi made from raw horse meat! While although basashi is somewhat bizarre at the best of times, one plucky Japanese ice cream maker decided that his ice creams flavours were missing a certain… something.

“Ah-ha” he exclaimed, raw horse meat flavoured ice cream is surely what everyone really wants, but they just don’t know it yet. And so, basashi ice was born. I think it is unlikely that you will ever find such a weird tasting ice cream anywhere else, so better head to Japan if you fancy a taste!

4. Uni

Uni is actually a rather common sushi filling, both in Japan and also in Japanese restaurants around the world. It seems innocent enough until you consider where it actually came from. Uni is the roe from sea urchins that live in small nooks and crannies on rocky ocean floors and are covered in spikes to protect them from predators.

So once upon a time, a diver fished something from the bottom of the sea, broke off all the spikes, managed to rip the the sea urchin in half, then scoop out the raw eggs from inside and eat them! Certainly a weird food for me, but going by the number of uni flavoured rice crackers you can buy, presumably not so weird in Japan!

3. Nankotsu

I first had nankotsu when I was living in Japan and went out to eat at a local izakaya bar. A friend had placed the order so I wasn’t sure what was going to be arriving, but they had assured me that everything would be delicious. A bowl of what looked like popcorn chicken was bought to the table, so I grabbed a piece and popped it in my mouth.

Instead of the soft chicken that I was expecting, there was a rather audible ‘crunch’ and I began to wonder why I appeared to be eating a deep fried stone. Thinking that my piece must have had some bone in it, I looked around the table and noticed that everyone else was crunching away on what I later found out to be nankotsu, the Japanese name for chicken bone cartilage.

2. Shirako

It is common in Japanese cuisine, and indeed in other cuisines to enjoy the rich taste of fish roe. Fish eggs come in all shapes and sizes, from small black caviar to the larger orange coloured ikura salmon roe that is popular in Japanese food. But what about the other side… the male version?

Shirako literally means ‘white child’ and is the Japanese name for male fish sperm! This is a serious delicacy in Japan and is served in its natural state inside a thin membrane, often with sushi. The texture is said to be “soft and creamy”, with an acquired taste and presumably a little bit salty!

1. Shiokara

Shiokara is a strong contender for the weirdest, most disgusting sounding dish in any cuisine in the whole universe! Made from salted and fermented fish guts, usually from squid, shiokara has a seriously intense flavour and smell. It is so pungent that even many Japanese people consider it too hardcore! Although a quick ask round the office proved that 50% of Japanese people are quite partial to this tasty treat!

Shiokara is often served at Japanese drinking and snack bars called izakaya, where it is often washed down with a healthy slurp of sake or shochu! If you are interested in trying  it, you might have to be prepared to go directly to Japan to find this delicacy!

Honourable Mentions

• Habushu – Awamori sake from Okinawa with a viper snake in the bottle.
• Inago – Grasshoppers fried in a sweet soy sauce.
Natto – Fermented soy beans that are stringy and sticky.

What do you think of these delicious looking dishes? Which one of these sounds the most appealing to you? Have you even tried any of these before? If you have any better suggestions for the weirdest Japanese food, let us know in the comments!

Eye Bleach

If you need some eye bleach to remove the nightmare of these delicacies from your thoughts, have a look at this fluffy Japanese Totoro toy and soothe your mind! :)

• Nankotsu image courtesy of KayOne73 at Flickr
• Shirako image courtesy of Skinny Epicurean at Flickr
• Shiokara image courtesy of Okona at Wikipedia

A Japanese Diet for 2012!

A Japanese Diet for 2012

/sigh… it’s that time of the year again! If you’re anything like me, then over the last few days you’ve feasted on way too much turkey and roast spuds, a single token brussel sprout and lashings of rich, delicious gravy. The pleasure that comes afterwards only lasts for a short while… until the regret starts and I begin to ask myself “Why did I eat so much?”

But hey, New Year’s coming up soon and that means that we can create another New Year’s resolution to get fit and healthy (for the 100th time!) The hardest thing about going on a diet is that diet food usually just doesn’t taste very good. Well, it never used to anyway… check out some of these Japanese foods from Japan Centre that are not only amazingly delicious, but also fantastic health foods, perfect for getting back into shape again.

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Sake Ceremony & Mochi Pounding Events for New Year at Japan Centre

New Year will be soon upon us again and that means it’s time for some traditional Japanese celebrations! New Year, called Shōgatsu in Japanese is one of the most important festivals of the year with plenty of tasty food and drink, as well as a fantastic variety of interesting customs.

If you want to experience some of the fun that happens during the Japanese New Year celebrations, why not join us at Japan Centre and get involved. There’s free samples to be had to make it even more tempting! :)

Mochi Pounding

Called mochitsuki in Japanese, mochi pounding is the custom of pounding large amounts of mochi rice into soft, stretchy and sticky mochi! Using a giant hammer and a huge mortar, one person hammers down on the mochi while another person adds water and flips the mochi over in between pounding to stop it from sticking. It is a technique that takes a lot of coordination, but is certainly quite a show to watch.

Want to see some  authentic mochi pounding at Japan Centre? Head over to Japan Centre Acton Store and enjoy the spectacle. We will even have some free mochi to give away to anyone who wants to try this authentically made Japanese sweet.

When: Monday 2nd January 2012 | 12pm~ & 3pm~

Sake ‘Cask Opening’ Ceremony

Kagami Biraki literally means ‘opening the mirror’ in Japanese and refers to an ancient ritual of opening either a type of mochi, or more recently breaking open a ceremonial cask of sake. This is a common practice which although traditionally done just after New Year, is now popularly done at weddings, opening ceremonies for new businesses and other various special occasions in Japan.

We will be breaking open our very own cask of Gekkeikan sake at both Japan Centre Regent Street Store and Japan Centre Acton Store. It might be a little early for some, but you can also grab a free taste of the sake after the ceremony! :)

When: Monday 2nd January 2012 | 1pm~
We look forward to seeing you at Japan Centre on the 2nd!

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