Europe’s largest Japanese food hall, Ichiba, is a new leisure and dining experience from the team behind Japan Centre Group and their partner, Cool Japan Fund.
The 17,400 sq. ft. flagship store, located at Westfield London, features food stations and theatre kitchens dedicated to showcasing and celebrating freshly-prepared Japanese cuisine, set around seating for over 200 covers.
In-store experiences are a key part of the concept, with customers invited to join a changing schedule of weekly cooking demonstrations and workshops, events, regional food and drink festivals, and sake tasting seminars.
A true celebration of Japanese cuisine and culture, the market hall is integrated with prepared food elements, offering fresh and packaged food products and kitchen essentials from a range of imported Japanese brands, alongside non-food gifts and merchandise from the region.
With Ichiba, Japan Centre Group and its partners Cool Japan Fund, Kikkoman and Gekkeikan, bring the tastes and smells of Japan to London.
To achieve its vision, Japan Centre approached SHW to help develop the foodservice elements of the store, with a scope to provide design consultancy on all catering areas within the premises, including a main production kitchen and several front of house stations.
Ichiba allows customers to see, shop, eat, drink and experience traditional and contemporary Japanese produce, all under one roof. The brief was to design areas which really showcase the skill and art of creating Japanese cuisine.
With such a vast food offering, the majority of which is made fresh to order and in full view of customers, SHW needed to design a solution that would allow an operation of this scope to function, within what is primarily a retail environment.
Part of the scope included specifying the equipment which would go into the numerous kitchen areas, including a large selection of refrigeration to suit the varied requirements and applications of each.
The products specified would need to deliver on performance, reliability, value, and also look good, due to the open nature of the food production areas and the highly-aesthetic overall concept of the store.
SHW was able to specify many True products to deliver its solution for Ichiba.
The selection included several units from our new counter range, in addition to uprights, undercounters, prep tables and chef bases.
Our new, highly-configurable TCR refrigerator and TCF freezer counters feature prominently throughout the back and front of house kitchen areas as a core element of the operation.
The two- and three-section counters provide industry-leading energy efficiency and an attractive design which complements the interior aesthetic of the store.
These products were so new at the time that True worked closely with the client to ensure the project deadline was kept by airfreighting the counters over, direct from our production facilities in the USA, in order to fulfil our commitment.
Several of our small footprint TUC-24 refrigerators can be found throughout Ichiba’s bakery and front of house live cooking counters, providing spot cool storage.
T-23F uprights provide large capacity frozen storage to the front of house areas, reducing trips required to the back of house stores, while our TRCB chef bases allow access to fresh ingredients at the point of cooking, located underneath and directly supporting a wide range of hot equipment.
Finally, our TFP prep tables provide Ichiba’s chefs with easy access to many ingredient pans and cutting board space, to prepare their culinary creations.
Ichiba is a great example of what can be achieved when a client has a clear vision for what they want a concept to be, and work with the best service and supplier partners to realise it.
For a taste of Japan in London, visit Ichiba, open now at Westfield London.
- Mike Kewer, Project Manager, Japan Centre