But being my mother's daughter, it is in my blood to crave a good and thick oshiruku or plump and soft odango once in a while. My mum, a big foodie, grew up in Tokyo (lucky, lucky her!!) where she developed a love for all things sweets: adzuki...mochi...anpan...dorayaki....manju... you name it. I have memories of coming home from school (as long ago as in year one!!) and diving straight into my 'goûtée' of kuri manju or dorayaki.
For those of you who are not utterly repulsed by the idea of craving rice balls in a thick and warm soup of sweetened red beans (Oshiruku) then read on for 3 Japanese patisserie recommendations.
|Matcha and Adzuki Lattés at Tombo.|
-29 Thurloe Place, London, SW7 2HQ.
'A Japanese Ottolenghi' is how I would describe this deli and café (the first of it's kind in London). The café itself is bright and airy, the ambience is young and dynamic, the staff are incredibly friendly and chatty, the décor is serene and minimalistic and the food is light and easy. I discovered this small deli soon after it opened, as it is practically next door to Snog in South Ken- and thank God I did. The rolls are inventive and the Donburis are even better, but I come here for the adzuki or green tea lattés and hoji cha frappucino. End summer on a high while enjoying your adzuki latté and munching on the sakura, sesame, matcha macaroons or the 'gateau chocolat, green tea'.
|Fluffy Dorayaki- a light Japanese pancake filled with Adzuki beans, at Minamoto.|
-44 Piccadilly, London, W1J 0DS.
-608 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10020.
-608 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104.
I love Minamoto, it is truly japanese dessert perfection. The simple décor is traditional yet modern and spacious, and like Tombo, the staff are friendly and always smiling, making it a pleasure to come here. The manjus and wagashis are displayed in glass cases, carefully positioned and arranged like small pieces of art. Although the Kohakukanumes and other such jellies are interesting to look at, I advise you skip them and go straight for the kuri manju, oribenishiki or matcha manju. Take a box of kasutera home with you, for the fluffiest, softest and best cake you'll ever have. The best thing about Minamoto? They have shops in London, New York, Shanghai, Singapore, San Francisco and Tokyo!
|An unforgettable dessert: Oshiruku at Toraya, Paris.|
|Cosy sitting area at Toraya.|
-10, Rue St-Florentin, Paris, 75001.
I've saved the best for last. After a long day of museum and boutique hopping in Paris, wind down with tea at Toraya, conveniently just a stone's throw away from the Rue St Honoré. This small, refined Japanese tea house is cosy and intimate, making for the perfect afternoon stop. Although Toraya is known for their Wagashi and Monaka (which are available to just buy at the counter) I strongly advise you to go and have a proper sit-down tea there, for a gourmet experience like no other. Warm up with green tea while you eagerly await your Oshiruku (possibly the best dessert ever- a sweet and warm red bean paste soup, with mochi inside). Then make room for the warm, sweet, salty, thick and rich Abekawa Mochi- grilled mochi coated in sweetened soya flour. The contrasting texture of the mochi and powder coating it make it an un-missable treat. In the summer months, cool off with Matcha Ice Cream An-Mitsu- green tea ice cream on a bed of red bean paste and seaweed jellies. If seaweed jelly isn't exactly your cup of tea, then go for the more simple, light and refreshing Kaki Gori Ujikintoki- crushed ice with green tea syrup and red bean coulis. When in Paris, Toraya is an absolute must- I would do just about anything for this simple yet indescribably delicious patisserie to open in London.