Looks like nothing we’d ever have imagined, tastes like something we could only have dreamed of.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Tokyo is Japan’s biggest city. What’s often overlooked, though, is that the second-most populous town in Japan isn’t Osaka, Nagoya, or Kyoto, but Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and about a 20-minute train ride south from Tokyo.
As such, real estate in downtown Yokohama isn’t cheap, but one of the closest commercial spaces to Yokohama Station is Kurikoan, a humble shop selling the traditional sweets called taiyaki, sweet bean-filled cakes shaped like fish (tai being the Japanese word for red snapper).
Kurikoan, which also has branches in Tokyo, has held on to this coveted location for decades by serving up both traditional standard taiyaki and innovative new takes on the snack, such as its Pokémon Magikarp version that went on sale last year.
▼ Kurikoan’s adorable logo character
Right now, though, Kurikoan is catching customers’ eyes with the color of its taiyaki, as the currently on-sale seasonal flavor is a dazzling shade of blue-green inside.
While the very concept of sweet beans can be somewhat unnerving for uninitiated diners, this isn’t the foodstuff’s normal hue. Anko, as sweet beans are referred to in Japan, are generally a deep maroon, but this particular variety isn’t any ordinary sweet bean paste – it’s mint chocolate anko!
Japan is in the midst of a mint chocolate boom, with dessert fans saying the cooling sweet sensation makes it the perfect flavor for early summer indulgences. Kurikoan isn’t necessarily jumping on the bandwagon, though, as it’s been offering mint chocolate taiyaki for a limited time each summer for the past few years.
Unorthodox as the concept may be, mint chocolate anko is incredibly delicious. Compared to other similarly flavored treats, there’s a much stronger mint kick, which comes on after the pleasantly mild initial chocolate sweetness and leaves your taste buds feeling invigorated and craving more.
While Kurikoan’s original location is in Yokohama, it also has branches in Tokyo, most notably in otaku mecca Akihabara and Shinkansen stop Shinagawa Station. The 195-yen (US$1.75) mint chocolate taiyaki will be on sale until June 16, with the sole exception being Kurikoan’s branch in Yokohama City’s Kamioka neighborhood, where it’s scheduled to be offered from June 16 to June 30.
Kurikoan (Yokohama West Exit branch) / くりこ庵（横浜西口店）
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Nishi-ku, Minami Saiwai 1-11-1
Open 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Kurikoan (Akihabara branch) / くりこ庵（秋葉原店）
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Sotokanda 1-15-1
Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he waits patiently for Kurikoan to open a branch in Los Angeles.
[ Read in Japanese ]