Sake Gumi
Kitchen with a View 1

My first post for Umamimart and it's going to look like a confession of an ultra lazy cook. My mother did not bring me up to subsist on ready-meals and instant ramen. I used to do a lot more adventurous cooking as a student, and I'm of the rare breed that actually likes cooking for one as I just make everything to my taste, but in the last year I've noticeably slackened.

But reading all the incredible food blogs has re-awakened my interest in cooking, and I'm hoping to slowly re-ignite my tiny kitchen. It's tiny, but it has a big window from which I can spy the London Eye and the Gherkin on a clear day (above pic). Apologies in advance for the poor quality of my pictures which were taken on my phone camera.

Of course, most of the time London looks like this. But when the sun shines, it's glorious. The Gherkin is the building in the middle on the left. Alas, the London Eye which should be somewhere on the right isn't visible.

So my fridge looks like this:

fridge 1

fridge 2

You may notice my veg drawer is a bit empty, but seriously, if you're cooking for one, you end up with a lot of gooey stuff you need to chuck out at the end of the week if you go crazy at the veg stall. So I choose a couple of veg a week (this week it's aubergine and salad bits). Meat I buy whenever I feel like making something, but the meat you get in the supermarkets here are pretty tasteless and full of water (when you fry them, you don't get dry meat, but a soup. The water is really freaking me out!) so I try and get free-range or organic.

Inside, you'll see a lot of staples I can't live without: eggs, butter, Kewpie mayonnaise, Sri Lankan lime pickle, toban djan (Chinese chilli bean paste) and Bulldog sauce (like a Japanese version of Worcestershire sauce). Lots of bottles and jars.

I seem to be a store cupboard junkie. Whenever I go on holiday, I spend a lot of time in the local supermarket. Salad dressings, mustards, jams, pickles; they all look so exciting and I just have to lug them back to London. And of course I can't live without my soy sauce and chilli sauce.

The scariest place is probably my tiny freezer. It needs a serious defrosting so who knows what's frozen inside... but since it's Umamimart, let's find out!


There's rye bread from the Christmas bazaar at the Finnish Church in London which I forgot about. They have the most delicious cinnamon buns and apparently a wonderful sauna too. Some olive bread from Paul, and a big box of fish fingers. I confess fish fingers is one of my guilty treats. It just hits the spot when you have it with Kewpie mayo!

So what shouldn't be in my fridge? Here's a selection which I'm going to chuck out as they are way past their sell-by date.

miso and yakult

Sri Lankan chilli sauce and toban djan


Miso from 2007 and Yakult from last month. Sri Lankan green chilli sauce and toban djan which I've had for years and expired last year. Salad dressings, Japanese, American and French all expired last year. I guess it's not too bad as my fridge is so tiny and easy to clean. But I've never had problems with expired sauces or miso (aren't they supposed to last forever?)

And finally, these aren't out of date but they smell and taste weird. I was being ultra, ultra lazy and got these ready-blitzed garlic and ginger. I guess you can't beat the fresh stuff.

garlic and ginger

*Sakura is mixed Sri Lankan/Japanese, lives in London and blogs about books at chasing bawa.
Column: Fridgin Out


  • The sniff test is good! There are lots of markets springing up everywhere and you get a great range of food now. I’m also loving the Dr. Who revival and am impressed with the new Drs. (as are most Londoners). Texas is synonymous with sunshine in my mind, and I hope to visit one day. Thanks for stopping by.

    Sakura on

  • Choosing dates and taking a sniff are good starting points. London must have a farmer’s market of sorts, doesn’t it? Your location sounds divine. I’m an American living in Austin, Texas. I’ve seen London in gray and in sun and it is one of my favorite cities. I also confess to being a tireless Doctor Who fan and I have introduced my kids to the Doctor as well as great food. Cook well!

    Chef Dad on

  • I chucked out the yakult (all that good bacteria probably turned bad!) I do all three steps as well, ha ha. I like your ‘hamster challenge’, but I always slacken as well. Look forward to seeing what’s in your fridge – your obentos always look yummy. And, all my Japanese friends say the miso should be fine…

    Sakura on

  • Expiration dates… I know about those LOL. The yakult I would definitely chuck out (but hey, I have never even bought it); the miso might be fine though!

    I usually follow the next few steps:
    1. look (no mold or strange discolouring?)
    2. smell
    3. taste (a tiny bit)

    And I’m still alive ;) Of course I don’t eat meat or fish so that leaves out a scary foodgroup when it comes to expiration dates ;)

    Like you I like to hoard up on foods found in foreign supermarkets. My pantry kinda resembles a hamster cage and last year I decided on a personal ‘hamster challenge’ in which I need to use at least 2 items from my stock. Started out fine but I’ve slackened in the last few months and I figured I needed to adapt ‘the rules’. Now I just need to find the time to fine tune and write up a post. (Hey, what am I doing here then? ;)

    So cool to present us a with fridge pic… might do that myself sometime — if I dare! ;)

    Gnoe (on Graasland) on

  • Thanks! Glad to be here!

    I grew up on Yakult as well. There used to be a Yakult lady who came around on her bicycle every few weeks to my Japanese grandparents’ to top up their supply when I was little.

    Sakura on

  • Oh, you didn’t have to chuck the Yakult! That stuff lasts forever… doesn’t it?? I love it, I need to have one every day. They are very good for you.

    Awesome post! Welcome to UM, Sakura!

    kayoko on

  • They have the same pronunciation in the UK.

    Next time I won’t be so hasty in chucking away my Yakult. It’s sooo yummy.

    Sakura on

  • I remember the Yakult ladies at my grandparents’ place, too! I have one in my fridge that expired maybe 2 weeks ago. I will still drink it.

    But what’s up with the US ads calling it yah-CULT?

    seri on

  • HAHA! Yeah – I totally noticed those weird Yakult ads on cable TV in the US and how they said yah-CULT. I didn’t even know they were marketing it to non-Japanese in the US until a few months ago.

    yoko on

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