“Little Japan” in West Acton and Celebrating Chinese New Year
“What food from home do you miss?” is a question frequently asked of foreigners.
My inconsiderate murders-small-talk reply used to be “nothing”. Have since repented of such impoliteness and have gone on to add that I do miss Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern cuisine.
While the extended answer is mostly for the furtherance and promotion of conversation in social situations that require this, it was a good opportunity, when i hit a brick wall in putting on a meal for Chinese New Year (having googled and discovered that i have little idea how any of the dishes taste, much less how to cook them), to check out Japanese food in London.
On the extreme west arm of the Central Line, there is a little huddle of Japanese shops just beside the West Acton station, possibly due to the proximity of the Japanese School: Yo Yo Kitchen (owned by Yoichi Iguchi, buyer of most of fish for most of the Japanese restaurants in London, says its website), various Japanese property agents, and Atari-ya.
Atari-ya is da bomb: miso, kombu, tofu, crab sticks, Chinese cabbage, edamame, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, daikon, wasabi, instant noodles, goma and ponzu and soya sauces galore, green teas, sashimi, thinly-sliced beef and pork for shabu-shabu, potato salad, crabs, uni, roe, mochi, rice seasoning, sushi rice, etc were stacked neatly in the small corner store.
At nightfall, we had a greatly encouraging time (an overused culturally Christian phrase) over katsu curry and shabu-shabu.
The updates from various people who’d returned to Singapore from the UK or who’d been sent by churches in the UK to Singapore were read and relished, and as a special treat, a video sent over by two pastors.
Most Singaporeans seem to dread returning to Singapore after the expanse and freedom and excitement of living abroad. Perhaps they’ve come to faith in Christ, or have grown tremendously under good faithful-to-Scripture teaching in London, and think that the spiritual riches of the Word properly preached and a mature community of believers might not be found any where else.
A few things i might have attempted to say over dinner:
- God is the God of the whole world – not just the God of a few choice churches in south England. Therefore, God is at work also in Singapore and everywhere else on this earth and in this universe (even on Mars, in case any one was thinking of settling there);
- as people of the risen King, we should be concerned with our master’s business rather than our own;
- what God works for, and therefore what we work for, is God’s own glory. This would be disgustingly ego-centric except that He really is the center of the universe and everything does, in actual fact, revolve around Him;
- we do not get trained up here at what people might think are the best churches or under allegedly the best teachers so as to construct a sparkling spiritual CV, in parallel to our impressive academic or work CV. These opportunities God has given us are for the service of his people and for his glory and we will do well to humbly acknowledge that we are not an evangelical elite;
- do not be anxious about anything but in prayer and petition, bring our requests to God, and the peace that surpasses understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ (Philippians).
People (perhaps politely) said they were heartened by the meet-up, loved hearing about the ministries in difference churches, wanted regular updates, and were eager to go back to serve God in Singapore, in whatever situation he put them in. Brilliant.
Four or five people, separately, suggested starting some sort of club or society for Singaporean would-be returnees in London. Am not keen on this, because defined groups tend to be exclusive, prone to internal hierarchies and encourage the desire to be validated within the group rather than striving to please God, and in time, the group agenda and politics sometimes obscures the original motive.
- Would like the purpose of encouraging Singaporeans or the Singapore-bound to have a right view of God’s work in the world (and specifically on The Little Red Dot) to be transparently obvious.
- Would also like this purpose not to reside only within a certain special-interest group but be the general understanding of all believers.
However, some good points have been made in defence of defined groups. Guess will file this away for mulling over another time…
Other sources of Japanese food products in London/the UK that looked somewhat promising:
- Harro Foods – Japanese food wholesalers
- Japanese Kitchen
- Japan Centre
- Kitaya Wagashi Japanese Bakery – wagashi sellers
- Willetts Family Butcher – seller of Japanese sliced meats
- a list of sushi fishmongers
- tanpopo – wholesale sushi suppliers