Somebody falling asleep on a train to Valencia and then walking round the station in search of refreshment, could be forgiven for thinking that they’d caught the wrong train and ended up quite a long way from their destination.
For there, among the modernist mosaics of the station designed in 1917 by Demetrio Ribes, is a new concept in restoration, Amazing Tokyo, not the most typically Valencian thing to find when you first arrive in the city.
Amazing Tokyo has a slogan: ‘Learn, Taste, Buy’, which says it all but I’ll explain anyway.
First of all they do demonstrations so that you can find out how to cook some of the oriental food that they serve, and also sell, which explains the ‘Buy’ part; and of course you can also eat and drink there, although don’t expect waitresses to come to your table, because they don’t.
It’s a bright place, full of Mediterranean light, and with video screen showing girls with blue hair and oriental executives making fun of themselves (although I’m sure they show other stuff when I’m not there).
The little supermarket is fascinating, and you could spend hours there just reading, which I did, which is probably why they asked me what I was doing. Fortunately I used the old ruse about being a journalist writing an article.
So, what can you buy there? I’m glad you asked. There is a range of edibles from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and all the other places over there. My favourites included grilled seaweed roll, which naturally can be bought in Tonkotsu flavor, layer cake (a very practical name from a very practical people), fruit mocha (always a must) and dong ting oolong tea, which can be consumed in the delicate tea sets that they sell.
The soy bean can be milk malted if you wish, and the tin of coconut water comes “with bits”, a sensible precaution.
There is vegetarian mock chicken, rice vinegar, sauce for dumplings (I confuse that while it is useful to know what something is for, I normally like to also know what it is).
In the frozen section, soft lucky duck sounds promising although vegetarian smoked goose meat roll sounds contradictory, and something called ‘just like ice cream’ (mango flavor) doesn’t quite convince me, whereas with glutinous rice ball I feel that I know where I am.
There are about 40 dishes to eat there or take away, and on Thursdays there’s a 2 for 1 offer, although I have never really understood what makes Thursday a bargain day. Could it be to appease the God Thor?
Amazing Tokyo is the brainchild of Zhi Zheng Yu, an ex-student of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV).