Monday, 3 February 2014

...And In search of Japanese Food!

I'm serious about going to Japan so I'm starting to get things organised.  I've got one commission already,  but I do need more.  And there are lots of other things to think about, such as dates, and... hmmm..... money.... 

I also need to sort the problem that I don't do very well with some of the common ingredients in Japanese food. I'm allergic to many kinds of seafood and react badly to soy sauce, so in the past, it's usually been simpler to eat something else.  But I refuse to head for Japan with a suitcase full of baked beans, so yesterday I set off for the Japan Centre in central London to see if I could learn a bit about the food.  


Since it was a nice day, after months of rain, I took a bus to Camden and walked from there.  For anyone who hasn't been to London, Camden Lock is a big "alternative" tourist centre. Some day I'll write about the crazy things in the huge indoor and outdoor markets there, and the amazing food you can get, (though actually I didn't see any Japanese food).  Despite its popularity and the march of the dreaded chains (Starbucks - sigh) you can still get cheap and inventive clothing and jewellery in Camden Lock, plus all kinds of novelties and antiquities, and it's always fun to linger by the water on a sunny day, and watch the people and the boats. Here's a huge narrow-boat turning round. 


Several of the older buildings along the main road are decorated with enormous coloured sculptures which usually relate to what the shops below are selling.  The shops change quite often and so do the sculptures. This caught my eye. It must be new. 


Then I continued down past a collection of charming and inventive villas created by the famous architect John Nash in the 1820s with the idea of creating a "romantic suburb."  The houses overlook what was once the canal, but it's been filled in now and so they have long gardens leading into a deep valley.  When the railway came, probably a mere twenty years after they were built, half of Park Village was obliterated for the tracks. But it's still a desirable place to live, mostly because of the picturesque and fanciful architecture.  


Onwards to an area of social housing which has allotments hidden away in the middle square, giving a neighbourly, almost rural feel to this extremely central bit of London just steps from Euston Station. 



The flower beds of this estate were planted with a very sweet smelling shrub with spidery little white flowers. Here it is. If you happen to recognise it, please let me know what it is called.   


Through Russell Square, with one of London's grandest Victorian hotels in the background.  Though wet, the weather has been so mild that daffodils are already out, 6 weeks early, giving a Spring like feel to the afternoon. 


From here, it's just a short walk to Covent Garden, popular with tourists. These two little boys were marvelling at how the man (sprayed all over in gold, to look like a statue) could apparently sit so comfortably on nothing except air. 


In the piazza, I passed a man playing Chinese folk music on a sheng, which is one of the world's oldest wind instruments. He was really lost in it.  


A few steps further and we were in Stanfords, which sells all kinds of maps, books and travel-related things. I have always yearned to buy a length of the fitted flooring in the basement, which is a huge vinyl map of London, but I reckon Stanfords had it specially made, as I've never seen it anywhere else.  Since printed books are less popular these days, the store is diversifying into furniture, and I really liked that painted travel chest. 


I bought three books on Japan, including one on negotiating the public transportation system in Tokyo, which seems to be at least three times as complicated as the London one.  


Like I said, I was heading basically for the Japan food centre, the other side of Trafalgar Square. As it is Chinese New Year, I was pleased to find that Trafalgar Square was decked out with Chinese lanterns and splendid red and gold decorations, with stalls selling firecrackers and Chinese snacks. Right in the middle, there was a big stage for live entertainment. 

The show featured little kids plastered in make up, dancing around and singing fairly simple stuff.    I think they were professional but they just made me feel a bit sad at the amount of practice they must have had to do, how grotesque they looked in the make up and how their material seemed completely Western. Still, even though I wasn't keen, the audience liked it, and there was a terrific atmosphere in the square, with many of London's Chinese community, as well as the usual huge mixture of other nationalities, having such a good time.  


Canada House fronts on to Trafalgar Square, and I was amused to see that the Canadians had put out all their own flags.  Someone had put up a Union Jack too. A truly multicultural event and both flags have plenty of red, the Chinese good-luck colour.  


The Japan centre has moved since we last visited. Outside, are stalls selling Japanese things, and upstairs, via a long golden escalator, is an excellent food hall with lots of ingredients, cookbooks, ready made meals and some desserts I'd like to try, like black sesame icecream. 


Plus some fancy bakery, which I found a bit scary - see below. I think it's a cartoon character but I don't recognise it. 


It's a wonderful place. I tried samples of some delicious plum wine, and noticed that there's a cafe. Prices didn't seem that high and it looks like the ideal place for lunch next time I'm in the area.  I had stopped off on the way for a coffee, so I didn't want to eat right away, but I bought a bento box to microwave at home for supper. 


And it was very good! I specially liked the pickled plum.

I've now also found some Japanese restaurants and food shops round where we live, so I'm going to do what I should have done before, and make a real effort to find Japanese food that I like to eat. It all smelt and looked good, so if I steer clear of dishes with seafood or too much soy, I should be OK, shouldn't I?  

58 comments:

  1. What a fabulous outing with wonderful accompanying pictures Jenny. I enjoyed myself immensely!
    Oh dear I empathise with your seafood woes - me too I'm afraid! Only fish is ok so that's something!
    If you do take a suitcase full of Baked Beans you must ensure it's Heinze!
    Have a great week.

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  2. Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable post
    Soy! Love it, but it doesn't love me. Many things like margarine and salad dressings are made with soy oil now. A little here, a little there can build up to be a lot of misery. I think of Japanese food with veggies and rice with lovely sauces that aren't too spicey. I think you will do great.

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  3. Yes there is a lot of food that you can eat away from seafood (gosh I eat fish all the time) soy will be somewhat of a problem because many sauces start with a soy sauce... is it the wheat you can't have ? anyway if you check out before and watch and eat at Izakaya you should be fine.
    The beef, pork and chicken oh the chicken is so good !

    cheers, parsnip

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  4. You want to visit Japan and I want to visit England. I feel so lucky to see everything you share.

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  5. Hi Jenny, thank you for the lovely tour through London. I love the photo of the narrowboat turning round there. About Japanese food, I am allergic to a lot of seafood and have a personal and ethical objection to some of the seafood the Japanese catch and eat. However, I believe they do lovely vegetable and vegetarian dishes, so maybe that's some to aim for.

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  6. Your search for Japanese foods that suit your tastes etc., seems like a very good plan, Jenny.

    I know I've heard it before, but I was still saddened when I read your comment - "Since printed books are less popular these days". It's a trend that's world wide, let's hope it swings the other way, back to the way it should be very soon.

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  7. Oh, how I would love to walk this tour myself! The history, culture, and people you have at your fingertips...and you share it so well. Thank you for this lovely interlude today.

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  8. I'd love to see Japan in the spring when all the cherry blossom is out. Japanese food has never attracted me and like you I don't do shell fish. Good idea to try and find some foods that you like before you travel. Must have a proper look round Camden Lock sometime, it's not an area I know.

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  9. I think it important to at least try the local food when I travel, and I'm looking forward to enjoying some Thai food next week.

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  10. The world is such a strange and wonderful place and you have so much of it right there! And are going to explore Japan. Wow. I am just so impressed.

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  11. Jenny you can't go wrong if you stick with vegetables and rice. I'm sure there are grades of rice as well; wild and brown are so good for you and the veggies will give you energy and vitamins.
    I hope you get to go to an open market while you are there, I hear they are amazing.
    And there is a movie, about a famous Sushi chef name Jiro (I think). Its fascinating and will help you in familiarizing yourself with the cuisine there. Wonderful post as always,
    Best
    Julie

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  12. I enjoyed tagging along with you on your trip around Camden, Jenny. I hope you are able to find something you will be able to eat in Japan (and enjoy). Are there vegetarian options perhaps? Love the Daffodils...! ♥

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  13. That was a wonderful tour of London...though I feel that Stanfords has gone down over the years

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  14. Judging my my grandchildren, you'll be just fine. Their father spent two years in Japan, and indoctrinated these children in as much Japanese food as is available here. On top of the crazy stuff they order at restaurants, they can patiently peel a pomegranate for twenty minutes before they work on the bowl of fruit.

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  15. I love how you took us all along on your walk through Camden in search of Japanese food. I like Japanese food (or, I should say, what passes for Japanese food here in the U.S.), and luckily I'm not allergic to any ingredients.

    LOL at the thought of you traveling to Japan with a suitcase full of baked beans!

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  16. Oh my God, I love that dragon!

    I could eat sushi until I fell over. It is my single favorite food. Well, that and lobster/crab.

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  17. Japanese cuisine without seafood or soy? Despite what many would try to tell you, it can be had, but a word of warning: you'll be served what's on the menu. It's either impossible or difficult to persuade restaurants that "I want the Greek salad but without the feta cheese". Impeccable service, as long as you accept the standardized version.

    Noodles. Remember Japan's delicious noodles: ramen, udon, soba. It's often served in dashi, a broth which contains shavings of dried bonito. You OK with that?

    If all else fails, Tokyo has better Italian restaurants than Rome, better French restaurants than Paris, better Indian restaurants than New Delhi. We even have British pubs! ^^

    Also try wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets made from rice and red bean paste. Wait. Better idea. I'll take you to a centuries-old wagashi restaurant. Deal?

    PS: That fancy bread looks a bit like Anpanman.

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  18. As usual, you've given us so many fascinating things to contemplate. I'm sorry to hear that you're allergic to seafood and don't get along with soy. I love seafood and I use a lot of soy (but it contains vast amounts of sodium). I'm familiar with Chinese and Vietnamese food but I know next to nothing about Japanese cuisine. I do know, however, that they eat lots of seafood - so be careful.

    I love that dragon on the side of the building - - that certainly grabs your attention! I also like the Chinese man playing the sheng, which I've never heard of. I'm not too sure about that weird cartoon character in the bakery......

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  19. Hello Jenny

    I love seeing the daffodils and activity as your travelled around. I have not been to Japan yet and I am intrigued. Do you follow the Japanese blogger http://through-the-sapphire-sky.blogspot.com/
    I am sure she would be delighted to help you in your plans.
    Have a glorious week.

    Helen xx

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  20. Hello
    Found your blog through 'Cup on the Bus', following the links. I'll read other post later, it's rather late now for me.
    I lived in Japan several...no, many years ago. I worked at a hospital in Hiroshima, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission hospital.
    From distant memory I think it will be difficult to eat there, given the prevalence of soy sauce, and soy in their diet. Also the seafood, though in the pic above I do see salmon.
    I enjoyed my time there very much, though times were different then, as was I.
    What do you have in terms of their language, and where will you be? Perhaps I should read earlier posts.
    Cheers

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  21. Thank you for this very interesting walk! I have never been to Camden Lock myself but now certainly want do have a look next time I'll be in London (possibly next year, or even later this year).
    The Nash villa looks very beautiful! I wouldn't mind living in one of those :-)
    As for the children on stage for Chinese New Year, I think I would have felt about them pretty much like you did. I am not a fan of children performing, unless it is something comparatively small like a play at their school or church.
    Japanese food... hmm... very exotic to me. Four years ago, I visited a friend in Paris. He took me for dinner at a Japanese restaurant, and I enjoyed it very much, but I am not sure I'd want weeks of it.

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  22. Oh dear Jenny. You have an uncanny way of making me want to go to London. I spent a lot (too much!) time there when I was reading for the Bar and in the mid 2000s when our elder son was so ill. The problem is that I just am not an urbanite. I do remember staying in the Hotel Russell on one occasion about 45 years ago when my Mother was on one of her exceptionally rare visits to the city. It must have impressed me otherwise it's unlikely that I'd have remembered it amongst so many others. Perhaps I will just have to bite the bullet and make another visit as a 'proper' tourist.

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  23. I hope so! I love Japanese food and it seems sad that you're not able to eat certain kinds of it. I think the thing I like best about Japanese food is that most of the dishes have sauce on the side, instead of mixed in with everything as does much Chinese cooking. Japanese food always seems fresher and cleaner (to the palate) as a result.

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  24. I discovered Camden last time I went to London, and really liked it, such a strange and funny place , so alive, interesting ! I'll keep the idea of those shops for my next visit, I'm very found of japanese culture and food, to travel to Japan is on my dream list.I hope you'll be able to fly and then , I'll look at your pics with great pleasure! :o)

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  25. Loved these photos, particularly those of the Camden area - where once I worked.

    Japan. Wonderful. The anticipation and planning are so much part of the experience as well!

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  26. I really enjoyed your walk Jenny, some things I know and have been to, others like Camden which is new to me. Love the John Nash house, and the field of daffodils. Good old Canada House I remember well - after all my daughter lives in Canada.
    You have a good idea re learning more about the Japanese food. We went to Japan for two weeks and I lost heaps of weight because so much of it disagreed with me. I was eating the rice and the cabbage garnish and not much else. Good luck and good planning, and you will have a great trip.

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  27. Thanks for the comments. Yes,you're right, I will need to figure out what Japanese dishes are veggie and what aren't. I might need to learn the characters for "tofu" and "crab" and "lobster" etc so it's clearer what to avoid and what to seek out.
    MM, you'd find Camden so different now. I have been photographing it since 1999 and it always stays the same, yet is so different. I used to know it when I was young, before it became trendy and was a sleepy boring little bit of London featuring plumbers merchants and electrical wholesalers.....:)
    Val, your comment reminded me of the Japanese approach to fishing - it is not good, from all that Greenpeace has told me. Lucky I like tofu!
    I am not dramatically allergic to soy, so I can eat small quantities. Parsnip and Maywyn. I just feel uncomfortable and queasy and always know if I have had too much.

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  28. What an interesting and colorful place to visit and lift the spirits. I am so jealous that you have spring daffodils while I look out my window at a foot of snow and more expected to come.

    I am sure you will find some Japanese food to eat but it is good to investigate before you go.

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  29. I enjoyed following you on your day out, it gave me lots of ideas for places to visit in the warmer summer months.
    How exciting that you are visiting Japan. If the bento box worked out well for you, I am sure you will not have a problem. There is a www.bento.com site which talks all about Japanese food, and shows vegetable friendly restaurants.
    I am off to Greece too, and have just purchased a book (looks brand new) on Greece, from Amazon, that cost me 0.1p only plus postage.

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  30. What fun to have a trip or two in the works. Meanwhile I enjoyed today's jaunt through parts of London. I like Japanese food in general but am not a big fan of sushi. I don't know why, I'm not allergic to fish or anything but I always order something else. I like a bento box or a bowl of donburi much better than sushi. Don't know the soy sauce content of either though but I expect there is some in there.

    Darla

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  31. Lovely post. I really enjoyed reading it. I know all the places you mention but seeing them through fresh eyes was lovely!
    Have a wonderful time in Japan - friends of mine who have been there rave about it, so much that it has been added to my list!

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  32. Your sweet-smelling shrub is Winter Box, (or Christmas Box) -Sarcocca humilis. I blogged about it some time back because its scent is so powerful and so unexpected from such little flowers. A sprig of this indoors will scent the house.
    I hope you make it to Japan with suitable food!

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  33. You have done it again. You have twisted my arm with such a presentation, that I am forced to go back and see it all again! I never really thought about adding Japan to my must see, as my list is already so long. I don't have any food allergies yet, so I am safe in that department, and I wish you much luck and care once you go. It's never fun to be sick far from home! Thank you for offering this delicious taste of a worthy place to visit!

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  34. Japanese cuisine does lend itself to vegetarian/vegan rather well, as i've found when i've had it. So i'm sure you can find things you can eat, and i hope you have fun trying!

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  35. Wonderful post. I feel like I've been somewhere without actually having had to make the effort... :)

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  36. Love those pickled plums. :) Thanks for sharing all your pictures!

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  37. I have never seen that instrument! wow!
    The dragon on the building was great!
    But how was that man sitting like that with no chair?
    I think you may have found a solution. You'll have to go back a few times and try more Japanese food from there. If nothing else, you should be able to find rice all over, right? You are such a brave soul! :)

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  38. Another great tour.
    Kind of sad you canny eat most of what the Japs live on! I hope you like rice.
    Nice to know something about the Camden houses, I may buy one when I am rich.

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  39. More replies.....
    Hello there, "Should Fish More" (great handle!) I think it must have been fascinating though terrible to work in the hospital in Hiroshima. Maybe you should post something about it in your blog which I have just read, great blog. Did I subscribe? I will go back and do it. I don't know anything of the language but I'm going to try and memorise at least "Yes" "Excuse me" "where is...." "how much..." "thank you" etc.
    Thank you very much for the link, Helen, I didn't know that blog and it had some interesting links in it too.
    Jon, I am frankly quite scared of the character in the bakery, if I opened up my refrigerator and found it there unexpectedly I think I would scream....
    But Rurousha, if it has a name (Anpanman ) then that makes it marginally less scary. not that I have ever heard of Anpanman! Thank you for the reality check on the fact Tokyo is a huge international city with lots of cuisine and I have a feeling I'll be sliding into big hotels to buy a Western buffet breakfast occasionally.... but I agree with Stephen that it's best to try local cuisine. I find often you can pick up something you really like and have never seen elsewhere. A centuries old wagashi restaurant sounds brilliant! Secret Agent Woman, you and I should travel round Japan together on the principle of Jack Sprat and his wife. Do you know that rhyme? "Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean. And so betwixt the pair of them they licked the platter clean"

    Kids who can peel a pomegranate have learned an important life lesson, seems to me, Joanne. It has to be a better approach than cramming in a MacD. :)

    Yes, Helen (Fly) I am afraid I think it has gone down but this is truly because print publishing has gone down and there just isn't the good stuff available that there used to be- and people don't buy it in paper form. I think they're being smart in diversifying into all kinds of interesting and fun travel stuff. But it's sad, in another way. Like Lee said.
    More comments to come.....

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  40. Hi Jenny,
    So you're coming to Japan! I understand it's one of the greatest concerns if the local dishes suit your palate especially as you are allergic to sea food and soy sauce. But don't worry, like Rurousha says I think you can find varieties of restaurants, health-conscious based on organic vegetables and less sodium. My elder daughter is living in Tokyo, working for a publishing company. I think you have friends or aquaintances here to ask for some tips but I'll ask her if she has any good idea.

    Anpanman (anpan means popular sweet roll filled with red bean paste. I love one) is a very popular character from a picture book. It was animated and he is a hero of many children. He appears on various children's products from clothes, toys to snack food:)

    I'm looking forward to seeing your report of trip toJapan from your adventurous, travel writer's eyes.
    I hope you'll enjoy your stay including food!

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  41. Oh you are now thinking of visiting Japan. I really hope you'll have time to visit the Kansai region too because it is the cultural and historical heart of the country. I'm afraid the best temples and shrines are not in Tokyo. Many of the best historical sites are in Kansai (in Kyoto and Nara) and the best gardens are in Kyoto!!
    Thank you for the tip about the Japan Center in London. I didn't know the center at all. It sounds interesting.

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  42. So much on this post to pull me in. First, that flower MIGHT be honeysuckle. Sure looks like the flower but it's going to have to wait till spring till I can identify the leaves! I walk by honeysuckle every day in my warm-weather walks but given that we have a good two or more feet of snow on the ground, that'll be a bit. But OH! It smells so amazing.

    Was that the Russell Hotel? We stayed near Russell Square when we were in London and ate at the Russell Hotel, which features in "Cats" in the end when the cat is going "up, up, up, past the Russell Hotel, up, up, up, up to the Heavyside Layer." As we were dining, our Gypsy was beginning his move to the Heavyside Layer and we always wonder if he was at the Russell Hotel when we were.

    Try okonomiaki -- it's like an egg pancake and it's delicious. Also, try your soy sauces and others from the Japan market -- we have been told by our Japanese friends that there is a difference in many ingredients between what is in Japan and what is at least here in the States. (And if you try to bake that holds to the dry ingredients, too. And the mayo!) You may find a better example at the market.Yaki-tori is a grilled chicken on a stick -- yum. Rick also makes something from a cookbook he got in Japan called something pronounced like "neeku-jaga." It's a bit like a potato stew over rice. Serious carbs.

    Before you go, learn these words or have someone write them in Japanese for you: "I am allergic to _____." Trust me.

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  43. I enjoyed the glimpse into the area while accompanying you, Jenny. The lamppost reminded me of the ones I’m familiar with in my hometown Kobe, part of which was designed by British engineers. What amazed me are the so early daffodils in the green grass and the gold statue-like man. I simply wonder how he can sit on air with that pose?

    Rurosha is right about the broth of noodles, but if you are okay to some extent (not too much), I think you can enjoy noodles without drinking the soup out. Since you liked the bento lunch, there are Japanese dishes you'll enjoy in Japan. This kind of research before your travel will make you feel that you don't have to be overly worried about.

    Yoko

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  44. Methinks my wife has a huge crush on Iron Chef Morimoto.

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  45. I like the idea of the allotments in the midst of social housing. Much more useful than a patch of open space that usually just gets vandalised.

    I've never been to Japan, so I haven't any dietary advice except to suggest you stick to vegetarian food (as long as it isn't doused in soy sauce!).

    Glad to see Stanfords still survives. A clever idea to sell travel-related furniture.

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  46. I loved this post. It brought back so many memories of when I worked in London. We used to sometimes lunch at a Japanese restaurant near St Pauls'. I still love vegetables in tempura batter. I wonder if that is authentic and you can get it in Japan.

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  47. I also have a great desire to visit Japan, my daughter is there ski-ing at the moment and since her visit a few years ago has developed a love for the country. Sure you will be ok with the food, I have eaten in quite a few Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong and there is plenty to choose from. Enjoyed my virtual visit to Camden Lock one of my favourite places to visit when in London, but have not been for years!

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  48. Very interesting post full of great photos! Love the guided tour, whilst I sit here on my butt in the warm and dry! :D

    I'm not sure I could cope with the food in Japan at all. I don't eat fish. Actually I'm a very fussy eater.

    Love the allotments right in the middle of the square. I think I'd spend a lot of time in my shed if I lived in London!

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  49. This is really strange...on my blog list on my blog it shows you have a new post up titled "Welcome (And, Wellcome)....and yet when I click on it, this post keeps coming up. 'Tis a mystery!

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  50. I admire all the prep you're doing for your trip. Our favorite Japanese restaurant in London, which also felt the most authentic, is in Hampstead: http://blog.sarahlaurence.com/2008/01/hampstead-fairies-and-asian-restaurants.html I hope it's still open.

    In Japan be sure to go to Kyoto to see the gorgeous gardens. I've gone twice to Japan but my husband goes every few years for work since he teaches Japanese Politics.

    It's so nice to connect with someone else who loves food and travel. I reviewed a novel today about opening a restaurant that you might enjoy.

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  51. Hi Jenny! I loved your walk and pictures-all so interesting. The Japan centre sounds great. I have not been there. I hope you find some food you like and can eat safely!

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  52. I was in Japan, back when I was 22, so that's almost 35 years ago. Anything I could tell you probably wouldn't be of much use now. I'm sure in a pinch you can eat at fast-food restaurants (McDonald's, etc.) but that defeats much of the excitement of travel. I hope you have a great time!

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  53. It's not somewhere I've ever had on my list of destinations, but I love Japanese art and I've been an origami freak since I was very young. I'm fine with the seafood, but it's the seaweed I can't handle. I hope you find something you'll enjoy. Soups, maybe?

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  54. An enjoyable post, Jenny. I almost felt I was on a day out with you. Japan will be an exciting experience, I'm sure of it. Hope you get the food side of it sorted.

    I haven't seen your blog in ages, or so it seems. Only today I found out that the blog roll was missing you out. Honestly, it shouldn't be allowed... smiles. Hopefully, I have reinstated you.

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  55. Next time I'm over in London I'll try and fit in a visit to Camden; it looks great fun.

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  56. For those who wonder how the guy can sit down - it's very clever. He's actually sitting on a bent angled pole, which goes up inside his trouser leg. So actually he's sitting on a seat. At least that is what I understand to happen. When these performers finally do get up, it's always beyond a curtain....haha...
    Valerie, this happens with me too. Blogger is truly a country of its own.
    Thanks Sarah for the link, the place is still there it seems, and it is within walking distance so we'll give it a try!. your comment was really interesting. Where in Swiss cottage did you live?
    Lee your question is answered when you see my later post :) I accidentally posted before I had finished writing, and so took it off right away to finish the post
    Yoko, I find it reassuring to hear about all the things I CAN eat.
    LindyLou, I'll be asking you about Hong Kong as I'm hoping to stop off there on the way to Japan! :)
    Ah, Jerry, clearly what I need to do is ask Chef Morimoto to show me personally.....:D
    I've noted "okonomiaki" Jeanie. In fact, I think I'd better start keepng a little notebook of stuff that's recommended and I will definitely get Japanese friends to write down useful words and phrases for me....so long as I don't get them mixed up...hehe.......
    Thank you for your comment, Sapphire, I love your blog!
    Ah! An explanation for Anpanman! Now I understand. It's a really good name for that pastry then :) The idea of seeking out health conscious restaurants is a good one.
    And Mimi, veggie would suit me very well. I prefer veggie food generally speaking.
    Oh, GB I think you should stop over in London when you return to the UK. It can be a bit much for long periods, but if you stayed just a few days........
    Meike, yes, Camden Lock has some very interesting shops, it's become a bit too touristy down the Mornington Crescent end but the Stables Market and around the main lock buildings really quite impressed me, after not having visited for years - I went with my cousin earlier this year.
    Right, have I answered everyone? I hope so because the comments on this post are just full of interesting points and thought provoking observations. I really enjoyed reading them.
    .


    .

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  57. I love this post - thank you for taking us along on your walk! I really liked your photo of the allotment. I hadn't heard of the Japan Centre before - I must go there for lunch one day - fancy joining me??

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  58. I never finished commenting. First, Judith, thank you so much for identifying the winter flowering box. Secondly, yes, Mandy, let's meet up for a japanese meal! Maybe sometime in March?
    Suldog, I'm determined not to become a McDonalds habitue ANYWHERE! so onward and upward with the Japanese food.

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