Japan Centre CEO Tak Tokumine mooted Ichiba earlier this year but has now confirmed the details: his 17,400 sq ft flagship store will have feature food stations dedicated to freshly prepared and cooked food and a larger retail offering that will include everything from fresh miso and soy sauce to tableware and sake.
There will be a 200-cover food court with stations producing a wide range of Japanese food including katsu curries; sushi and sashimi; tempura; noodles; and a number of street food dishes including takoyaki (wheat batter spheres packed with a range of fillings).
There will also be a Japanese bakery and café serving items such as dorayaki pancakes with teas including hot or iced matcha lattes. Alongside, this there will be a dedicated kaku-uchi sake bar, serving hot sake and regional artisan sake picked by an in-store sake sommelier.
In-store experiences are also a key part of Ichiba. Theatrical kitchens will be set around seating for over 200 covers with a schedule of weekly cooking demonstrations and workshops, events, regional food and drink festivals and sake tasting seminars.
Tokumine, who also runs fast expanding Ramen group Shoryu, founded the Japan Centre brand in the 1970s and recently launched a new store near Leicester Square.
Cool Japan Fund helps support businesses to promote Japanese food and culture overseas. Tokumine says the fund’s partnerships with artisan suppliers across Japan will allow Ichiba to offer authentic products and rare regional produce.
Other partners include soy sauce brand Kikkoman and Gekkeikan sake. Tokumine collaborated with the latter on Mayfair fine dining restaurant Sakagura in 2016.