I have loved eating food from all over the world ever since I was a kid, so when I got the chance to visit Japan in January of 2019, I knew I would have an incredible time diving into all of the unique dishes this amazing country has to offer. I started my Japanese adventure in Tokyo and explored several other cities and areas around the island of Honshu on an unforgettable, 12-day excursion. Come with me as I explore the gorgeous island nation of Japan!
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I love Asian sweets. They’re so different from Western sweets, and Japan has some of the most unique ones on the planet. My friend Shinichi from TabiEats was kind enough to take me on a phenomenal street food tour in Asakusa, Tokyo, where we explored the sugary world of Japanese sweets in the culinary capital of the world!
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The Asakusa area of Tokyo is known for its beautiful temples and delectable street food, so I knew I’d have a blast there! We started on the longest and oldest shopping street in Tokyo, Nakamise Dori, where you can find the oldest temple in the city, Sensoji Temple, as well as lots of shops. There’s a lot of history there!
At our first shop, Azuma, Shinichi and I tried kibi dango, which is a traditional Japanese sweet that consists of mochi balls covered in millet flour on a stick! It was gooey and was almost exactly like mochi, but with nothing inside it, and covered in a nutty flour that tastes similar to peanut butter. I loved it! Then I also tried a fantastic, hot, fermented rice drink called amazake. It was very rice-y and kind of slimy, but amazing! I’m glad I got to try it; it’s only available in the winter.
Next, I tried ichigo daifuku, a type of mochi that is stuffed with red bean paste and a fresh strawberry. We got two different varieties: one with red bean paste and one with custard. The one with the red bean paste was incredibly juicy and fresh, as it was strawberry season in Japan. One of my favorite mochis of all-time!
Next was the custard ichigo daifuku, which was very different. I didn’t love it at first, but then the custard inside blew me away!
Up next were freshly deep-fried rice crackers. They were hot, crunchy, and salty, and had a flavor almost like popcorn. I didn’t love them, but they were still pretty tasty.
We followed that with Japanese pancakes called ningyoyaki that date back to the Edo period. They come in shapes like pagodas and birds and contained red bean paste, which is standard for most traditional Japanese sweets. It was almost all gooey red bean paste with the savory pancake around it and is so good! Six cost 550 Yen, or roughly $4.97 U.S.
After visiting a mask shop with a cool selection, we moved on to menchi katsu, which is a deep-fried patty made of beef, pork, and onion. It was very moist and juicy and had a great mix of flavors and a nice, flaky crunch on the outside. It was amazing!
Afterward, I met an owl from an owl café and grabbed another coffee from a vending machine, before grabbing two savory, deep-fried pancakes called monja: a regular one and a curry one. Both were hot and moist, with lots of herbs, but the curry one had a crunchy, delicious curry on the outside. I loved it!
After passing through the second gate of the temple and warming my hands by a massive incense burner, we prepared to enter the temple by rinsing out hands and mouths in the water of the nearby fountain. Inside, I prayed, made a wish, and bowed. Afterward, you can get your fortune, but mine was bad, so Shinichi showed me what to do with fortunes you don’t like and want to change!
We finished our sweets tour with some melon pan, which is a Japanese sweet bread with matcha (a type of green tea) soft serve ice cream inside! The bread was amazing, like a biscuit with a little sugar on top, and an icy dose of intense matcha flavor in the middle. My number one dish of the day, even though it gave me brain freeze!
Wow, what a fantastic sweets tour! I hope you liked watching me and Shinichi sampling some of the best Japanese sweets in Tokyo! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave me a comment below. And please subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already. I will see you in the next travel food adventure!
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