The Best Anmitsu of All Time

A bold assertion? Maybe, but one I can make without hesitation. This anmitsu is from Tugi and could be in my top 5 Japanese sweets of all time. On the top layer, there is a generous scoop of coarse red bean paste, delicate & fluffy white mochi, and the most flavourful preserved apricots. Sandwiched in the middle is kanten jelly with little beans, on top of the smoothest matcha pudding-like jelly. Finally, as an interactive element, quite a large helping of black sugar syrup. This skimps out on nothing, it is pure decadence.

This blog is made out of my love for sweets, not writing.

At first bite, this was time-stopping-ly, eye-closing-ly perfect. There’s not much else to express? That I can express? Each flavour worked as harmoniously as each texture did. At turns chewy and soft, sweet and bitter, it was so well executed I am grateful to have been able to try it.

As a gentle unwritten rule with myself, I almost never get the same thing twice (with the obvious exception of annual/seasonal sweets). I might have to give a pass to this one, it was so unbelievable.

Hakata Minazuki・博多水無月: Tea & Citrus

Working my way along my sweets haul, today I unwrapped 2 triangles. The dark brown on the left is hōjicha flavoured; roasted green tea. I am a huge hōjicha fan, it is deep and rich and a bit smoky. In my opinion, it’s the tea closest to coffee. It’s what I crave on cool rainy days or from the start of autumn. Not necessarily something I associate personally with summer but I do love it regardless, particularly in the minazuki.

The soft yellow one is ama natsu・甘夏 or natsu mikan・夏蜜柑 flavoured; sweet summer citrus. It was just tart and sweet enough to perk up my afternoon. A very good combination that balanced out surprisingly well!

Summer Stone Fruits

A very traditional and beautiful old sweet shop I go to often is Kamiyaseika・加美家製菓, the owner is so sweet and chatty. They sell some items in front of their shop and never lack seasonal treats. I bought these mizumanjū・水まんじゅう which are perfect and refreshing in the summer. The pink is plum & white bean paste wrapped in jelly and the pale yellow is peach flavoured.

Hydrangeas: Volume 2

Another adorable hydrangea wagashi from Kichi Zoh・吉蔵, this being one of the most fun to eat sweets I can remember. There is an iridescent soft jelly dome around smooth white bean paste. At the lightest touch, the dome collapses as the little individual petal cubes bounce down. It was as pretty deconstructed as it was before I started eating it.

Cake Day

A little baked sweet called カスポール・Caspole from Kumaya. The inside was soft and fluffy with a sugary crunch on the exterior. This one is influenced by when the Portuguese came to Japan 400 years ago. Nagasaki is famous for castella cakes, also of Portuguese influence and this sweet reminded me a lot of castella.

Adrenaline

Nothing fills my heart and soul with a greater rush of emotion that finding a new sweet shop and asking questions to the staff about every single one of their products. It’s wonderful, it’s fun (for everyone I hope) and I learn so much. Enter Kuyama・熊屋 a shop from Nagasaki, with the nicest staff and really unique sweets. On top is a brown sugar mochi and the shiny pink ball is a strawberry jelly case around a cream and white bean paste interior. I went late in the afternoon when there was only a little left in terms of selection or room in my stomach. I will go back next week without fail.

A Deluxe Cake, Indeed

This is another from Suzuya, a famous (in the world of Japanese sweets) shop in Wakayama prefecture. On a bus ride after our pilgrimage hike, my friend who is well accustomed to my sweet tooth sent me a link for this place she had happened to find close by. I was so excited, how lucky to just happen across this place! Their signature item is called Deluxe Cake and it is really delightful and even by my standards, fairly sweet. It is a sort of cake that sandwiches a white and red bean jam paste that is wrapped in white chocolate. Definitely not for every day, but it is amazing. Fun fact, the heir to the Japanese throne, Prince Ashikino and his then wife Princess Noriko were served these cakes when they visited the area.

Rainy Day Castella Cake

I pickup up this castella in Nagasaki when I was there a little while ago. It was nice and dense but not too sweet. Castella is very popular all around Japan but it most famous in Nagasaki. It obviously has Portuguese influence and is not what come to mind when you think of wagashi. I also re-stocked my favourite matcha, but I might have to switch to iced matchas pretty soon.