The first authentic “depachika” in the UK is now open to visitors at the Japan Centre in central London. A depachika is a combination of a food hall and market conventionally housed in the basement of department stores in Japan. The one at the Japan Centre owes its stylish design to CADA, the people responsible for the success of Dean and Deluca in the US, both of which will arrive in London in November. The Japan National Tourism Organization describes depachikas as “fun places” that resemble “food theme parks.” In the cherry blossom country, they find favor among citizens for their array of ready-to-eat food and products in pretty packaging. All major cities have a sizeable collection of depachikas, apt for quick lunches. The London culinary scene is embracing Asian food like never before, with the recent opening of the Bell Bang Oriental at Edgware Road.
The store where UK’s depachika is housed is quite unassuming. But once you descend the corner staircase, you enter what is veritably a food wonderland. Stunning lighting and a mind-boggling variety of goodies can make you feel like a child once again. As far as food is concerned, you can choose from donburi (rice bowls), takoyaki (snack balls stuffed with octopus, tempura, ginger and green onion), sushi, ramen and bento boxes. And of course, there is a lot of iced green tea to go around. The dining is canteen style, with high stools and communal tables along with conventional tables and chairs. The shopping section features all kinds of fresh miso, sake, tea, tofu and quintessentially Japanese cakes at the bakery. But it’s not all about food – there are even magazines, books, stationery and ceramics on sale. The depachika operates all days of the week.
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