One thing I love the most of Japan is their food (Ok, after my family and friends). Especially, their sweets are really excellent! From the way they create the sweets in such pretty, artistic way, to the flavor of each items, it always surprised me with great joy. I wanted to share some of the joys of Japanese sweets with you here.
The Summer of 2015, Matcha was center of attention. Today, most people have heard/tasted matcha in some form, whether in drinks or sweets. If you still haven’t had the chance to try it, Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea. So, it has stronger, deeper green tea flavor. I do love Matcha, so I was happy to see this Matha boom in Japan.
We found some Oreo with Matcha fillings, so we of course decided to try them out. They had Oreo bits, which are basically the mini size Oreo, with Matcha filling. Also, they had one with soft cookies, which were more like chocolate cake sandwich, with Macha milk filling. They were both really great, with nice, strong Matcha flavor. But, I have to say, I fell in love with the soft cookies… The chocolate flavor of the “cookies” were really great, and chocolate and Matcha always go great together. It was like eating chocolate cake with Matcha cream. The center was a milk cream filling, adding that extra sweet flavor, so it is not all just chocolate and Matcha. This one, I could have 10 of them every day… Oh, and it came individually wrapped, which was great.
We got to visit one of the most popular donuts chain store, Mr. Donuts. They are hands down my favorite donuts shop in Japan. Every donuts I had from there in my life, has been really amazing. This year (2015), they had no only Matcha boom, but also Brooklyn boom. Why? Have no idea… They had some Brooklyn themed donuts, and they were using the wrapper with “Brooklyn” on it. We chose one of their Matcha donuts, Croissant Donuts, Matcha Choco (172 yen, roughly $1.50). It is kind of Cronut, since it was a donut made with croissant dough. Then, coated with Matcha flavored chocolate, with kinako sugar dusting. Kinako is a roasted soybean flour, and commonly used in Japanese sweets (mixed with sugar). This was an excellent donut, airy, fluffy, sweet without being overly sweet, and the flavor of Matcha and kinako together was really great! They do know how to come up with awesome donuts…
Japan of course do other wonderful sweets without Matcha too. They create beautiful artwork with amazing skill. At the Kabuki Theater, we saw some hard candy’s in all sorts of bento (lunch box) forms. What they here is, they took the bento offered at the Kabuki Theater, and made them into candy bento you can buy in the gift shop (around 500 yen/box). Each one looked like the traditional bento, with rice and veggies, meats, fish, etc. The rice part (white rice with picked plum, rice with egg topping: yellow, and rice and beans: pink) of the bento were all created with Konpeito, a very traditional candy that has been in the Japanese history since the 16th century. It is a sugar candy, and does not have any extra flavor, just added color. They also had sushi bento box, of course, all made out of hard candy. They really know how to manipulate hard candy in all sorts of forms, it is really incredible even just to look at.
Lastly, one of the BEST convenience stores in Japan, Lawson, offers great deal of awesome food and drinks. Lawson has expanded with its popularity over the many years, and they have Lawson 100, where everything is 100 yen, Natural Lawson, Lawson Fresh, etc. Natural Lawson is especially popular among female customers, with their emphasis on health and beauty at this store. Each Lawson stores offer good items, food, sweets, and drinks at very good, reasonable price. We found some tasty looking sweets here, and sine it is sold at Natural Lawson, it is healthier choice, right? We got Angel Pie, Mini, with Strawberry Filling, Matcha Shortbread, and Blueberry Cream Sandwich (148 yen/each). They were small bags/box, great size for a little snack. Angel Pie was airy and fluffy, with creamy strawberry filling that just was so addictive. The Matcha Shortbread…what a genius idea! It was soft, light, sweet, with nice Matcha flavor. The sandwich, it was a bit dry (more like a cracker feel to it) but had really good blueberry cream filling that was rich and velvety.
So, next time you are in Japan, you should definitely try all sorts of sweets, from every place you go! Anywhere from Kabuki Theater and some high end restaurant, to coffee shop and convenient stores, you are sure to be in for a joyful surprise. If you are already in Japan, or lives there, well, lucky you!