5 Yummiest Desserts Found Only in Japan
Japan is famous for its savoury dishes like sushi or ramen, but the quirky island nation has so much more to offer. Japanese desserts have developed independently from western cuisine, and thus you’ll find flavours you never even knew existed. These sweets can seem alien at first, but if you give them a chance you’re sure to find them just as mouth watering as any local does.
The perfect autumn or winter food, a Yaki imo is sure to warm you up and satisfy any hunger. These are roasted Japanese sweet potatoes and come in two types: the purple Beni Imo from Okinawa, and the golden Satsuma Imo from mainland Japan. Whilst they are used in recipes from chips to cookies, the Yaki Imo is the classic and purest form. They are slowly roasted on a hot plate for hours, releasing the natural sweetness within. Over time the potato caramelises, creating an explosion of sweetness.
Anko is often called the base of Japanese desserts. It is a sweetened paste made from red beans, and if that sounds unpleasant, then I’ve got news for you; it’s delicious! Often used as a filling for cakes, such as the famous Taiyaki, It is a sweet, sugary treat unlike anything in western cooking. These cakes can take some getting used to but will soon become a favourite of anyone visiting the land of the rising sun. Red anko is the most common type and has a robust, almost nutty flavour, but there is also white anko that has a much sweeter and more subtle taste.
Kinako is made by roasting soybeans and turning them into a powder with a warm, caramel flavour. It is often mixed with sugar and then put with other desserts such as mochi. Sometimes translated as a rice cake, mochi is exteremly unique from its texture to its taste. To make it, you hammer soft rice into a sticky, stretchy dough, then cook it. The resulting decadence will be soft and spongy, like a cross between a marshmallow and uncooked dough. Kinako and mochi is the classic pairing, and a must-try if you come to Japan.
Matcha ice cream
Matcha, or powdered green tea, is well known outside of Japan but the rest of the world has yet to catch onto its versatility in the dessert world. In Japan Matcha is as common as vanilla. It is regularly paired with anko, but the most popular way of eating it is in ice cream. Matcha ice cream is a electrifying experience for your taste buds. The taste matches with ice cream to create the ultimate feeling of refreshment. It’s a subtle, yet recognisable flavour, that will keep you coming back for more.
The ‘Sublime Ruby’ Kit-Kat and other crazy flavours
Whilst the KitKat might have been born in England, it has found a new life in Japan. Japan has made it their mission to make the chocolate biscuit in as many flavours as possible. One recent flavour was the Ruby KitKat, a specialist item for valentines day that was so popular that they continue to sell it at KitKat Chocolatory. Made from a new kind of naturally pink chocolate, the Ruby KitKat has a uniquely fruity taste, with the well known KitKat wafer beneath.