Pancakes are hot hot hot right in Tokyo! Here, they’re called ‘hot cakes.’ A couple brunch-type restaurants have popped up recently that specialize in pancakes, and they can usually be found by the crazy long line out front. When I say crazy, I mean 4-hour long wait crazy. In the rain in 90 degrees weather plus 80% humidity crazy. Although a few creative ideas have come out of the craze (like a cook-it-yourself restaurant similar to okonomiyaki), they’re usually just the same pancakes we get back home. If you want to see what the craze is all about (or just gawk at the queues), there are a few places to check out: Eggs N Things in Harajuku, Original Pancake House in Kichijoji, Slappy Cakes in Shinjuku. Find a more complete list here.
Purple sweet potatoes must be one of the most beautiful vegetables. Their natural color is better than any imitation food coloring out there. So when I came across a shop selling these sweet potato-filled buns steaming in a wooden box on a side street, I had to buy one! … And then I bought another. Continue reading
One of my favorite parts of Kawagoe was Penny Candy Alley (Kashiya Yokocho) that’s made of small alleyways, old merchant candy shops, and tons of traditional candy and snacks. It has such a great nostalgic feel that makes everyone reminisce about a simpler time. Even my husband ran around like a kid in a candy shop, and with big eyes, he asked me for 100 yen ($1)! Continue reading
This weekend, I finally made it to the historic town of Kawagoe or “Little Edo”, and it was even better than I expected! If you’re visiting Tokyo and would like to experience historic Japan, don’t miss this spot. Just an hour train or car ride from central Tokyo (30 min from Ikebukuro), this area transports you with its original pharmacies, ramen shops, shrines, and candy shops. Some of the buildings are originals from the 1600s that survived the earthquakes, bombings, and fires. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to visit Kawagoe 川越市 for awhile now, and with the beautiful weather yesterday morning, I thought it’d be the day. By the time we got to Ikebukuro Station, the wind picked up so all of the trains stopped until they could travel more safely. Not wanting to wait around indefinitely, I strolled around Ikebukuro instead, where I spotted this small taiyaki shop (pronounced: tie-yah-key).
Taiyaki is a Japanese sweet snack made from pancake batter, cooked in a fish-shaped mold, and stuffed with red bean paste. It can be filled with other things such as chocolate, custard, or cheese, but red bean paste is the most common and traditional.
Shinjuku Tsubakian is owned by a sweet woman, who is nothing but smiles and polite words. She cooks everything to order so your taiyaki is fresh, hot, and crunchy! Everything is homemade, and her shop specializes in thick crust teriyaki for 150 yen.
Yesterday, we made a pit stop at The Market: SE1 in Fujisawa on our way to the beach. It’s still very cold here, but we were craving the sights and sounds of the ocean and the taste of fresh gelato!
I absolutely adore the owner here, Yasuo Atarashi, who makes all the gelato himself daily and serves all of his patrons with smiles and cheer. The small shop is rustic and homey and is always packed with locals.
My last spoon was adorned by this heart-shaped strawberry “confetti”! I love you too, gelato. I love you too.
One of the few omiyage I picked up this season is this paper drum filled with the most delicate sugar-coated jellies from Yuutama. The agar used to make these jellies is derived from seaweed, giving it the crystal clear appearance. It’s the same process invented in the 1600s for many Japanese traditional sweets. Despite the different colors, they’re all flavored like yuzu – very refreshing and light. I’ll just let the photos speak for itself. They’re an amazing crystal clear jelly-jello hybrid surrounded by a very thin sugar coating. Everything about this omiyage is beautiful. Visit their site for even more eye candy (haha! see what i did there?).