I made a trek over to the Japan Centre in Piccadilly this week - a must stop at place for any foodie interested in Asian foods. (Their website, by the way, does not do their shop justice). First of all, it is an incredibly huge store and very, very well organized and incredibly clean and tidy. When you first walk inside, there is a deli counter with freshly made sushi, baked goods, and other take-away Japanese items. These are freshly made and are a huge step up from the typical fast-food style sushi places you can now find scattered all over London. For a non takeaway experience, their main restaurant, Toku is right beside the shop.
The shop itself is full of unique items and everything is so very clearly labeled (using English language stickers placed onto the Japanese packaging for clarity) and the variety is stunning. Everything from elegant tea powders and leaves to serving ware to riceball molds to imported Japanese language magazines, books, dishware, spices, sauces, and lots of specialty rice and noodles. I actually didn't mean for this to become a review of the shop, but I simply had to mention it as the place is quite simply amazing
One of the things I bought while there was this gorgeous, freshly baked half loaf of Japanese Matcha Marbled Shoku Pan. It is a delicious brioche-y textured loaf of bread, baked in a square shape with a very light texture and airy quality. Matcha is green tea, which was used to make the lovely ribbons of swirling deep forest green. It has only the slightest hint of tea flavor; the tea is there I think mainly for the lovely visual effect. I am now on a quest to find an accurate recipe to make this at home and will share my results once I have tracked down the correct version.
The photos show what was left after some of the bread had already been sliced and eaten, but you get the general idea. It is simply gorgeous! They also sold a pink version.