Europe’s largest Japanese food hall — Ichiba — will open inside Westfield London, in Hammersmith in March next year. It comes as part of the shopping centre’s £600m expansion.
The vast 17,400 sq ft flagship store will include food stations dedicated to cooked food, prepared on-site, while the main food hall will offer a large range of imported Japanese staples and kitchen essentials: from rice, miso and soy sauce, to a wide selection of sake, rice crackers, and confectionery, books and artisanal ceramics — the same comprehensive offering for which the Japan Centre has become renowned in London.
Food stations will offer everything from:
- Katsu curries to sushi and sashimi, street food including takoyaki, tempura and noodles made to order.
- A traditional Japanese bakery and café serving items such as dorayaki pancakes with teas including hot or iced matcha lattes.
- A kaku-uchi sake bar, serving hot sake and regional artisan sake handpicked by an in-store sake sommelier.
- A noodle bar where visitors can sample freshly prepared noodles and tonkotsu ramen.
An enhanced dining offer is “a key focus of the 740,000 sq ft expansion of Westfield London which will make the centre the largest in Europe” almost 10 years after it opened. With nearby White City Place having just opened and another development — featuring a new Soho House group property, and Bluebird from D&D restaurants — in the pipeline for 2018, this area of west London is shaping up to be one of the biggest areas growth in the new year.
As has become commonplace for developers of multi-use public spaces who traditionally privileged retail, dining is a major priority for Westfield. “The expansion has been designed to consolidate the centre’s position as the go-to destination for not only fashion but food, leisure and entertainment,” the announcement said.
Keith Mabbett, director of leasing, Westfield UK and Europe, himself added:
“We’re are thrilled to announce Europe’s largest Japanese food hall will be opening at Westfield London as part of our expansion plans. As well as welcoming more fashion and home retailers to our expansion, innovation in dining and leisure will be a key feature of the new Westfield London... Ichiba is a fantastic concept that will offer our visitors the opportunity to dine, shop and experience Japanese cuisine and culture with an element of theatre — and we know it will be hugely popular.”
Ichiba is a joint venture between the Japan Centre Group and Cool Japan Fund, an organisation “which helps support businesses to promote Japanese food and culture overseas.”
Japan Centre’s CEO Tak Tokumine added: “I’m delighted to announce this new concept for people to experience Japanese food culture at Westfield London. Ichiba will be a dynamic and inspiring addition to the expanded centre and retail landscape in the Capital.”
Westfield London’s expansion next year will bring the total number of stores across fashion, leisure and entertainment to 450. More “major” retailer announcements will be made imminently, Mabbett said.