There is a small section of Sir Lowry Road in Woodstock (a light industrial area adjacent to the Cape Town city centre) that has so many kitchen and catering supply businesses that it’s known as caterers’ alley. I use the phrase “so many” with reservation, because they are probably only numerous in a Cape Town context.
I don’t think I could have imagined the scale of what I’d find in the similar precinct of Tokyo – Kappabashi-dori (near Asakusa station). I was expecting to see pots, pans, stoves, crockery and chopsticks. I was even expecting the shops that sell plastic food for display outside restaurants. But I was blown away to discover a couple of shops selling all the paraphernalia one needs to deal with the cash end of a restaurant – a huge variety of stationery for writing out the orders and bills, folders for presenting the bill, pad holders for writing out the orders, not to mention gadgets for storing coins. Those funny little curtains one ducks under as one walks into a Japanese restaurant? There were even shops selling those; not as part of their assortment – their entire stock!
The Japanese crockery was fabulous; we’d happily have loaded up on the huge selection of intentionally mismatched bowls, but – sadly – baggage allowances only go so far.