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Minamoto Kitchoan

Just east of the Royal Academy, conveniently located next door to La Maison du Chocolat, is an elegant Japanese confectionary store. Minamoto Kitchoan is London's branch of an international chain of stores, the sort of select chain whose locations are all in select major cities around the world. It has all the formality of display and perfection of presentation you'd expect from an upscale Japanese store, but without quite the same degree of formality. Located in the heart of tourist London, at 44 Piccadilly, an international bevy of visitors, primarily European, drifted in and out while I was there.

Traditional Japanese desserts tend toward a greater subtlety than do those in the countries in which I grew up. Flavorings are delicate and appearance is a priority. Minamoto Kichoan obliges the visitor with an informative little card in English describing each of the 25-30 treats available. In a glass display case, inamongst tidily boxed gift sets of sweets, lie presentation plates, samples of each confectionary, plated for inspection.

The desserts themselves are sold individually and pre-wrapped, with most prices ranging from UKP 1-2. At that price, any given treat is affordable, but the price of a box set or large selection adds up quickly. Still, surrounded by both intriguing and much-missed treats, of course I gave in to a sampling.

  • Tsuya - a thick layer of red bean paste between two sweet pancakes. Mmm. Comfort food.
  • Oribenishiki - chestnut and sweet red bean paste wrapped in a "crepe", which was more like light breading. A bit on the dry side, but I quite liked the soft flavorsome chestnut interior.
  • Mame-daifuku - red bean paste in a soft rice cake, studded with black beans, which added a nice little punch to the texture and flavor.
  • Sakura-daifuku - seasonal specialty, red bean paste in a soft rice cake flavored with mixed cherry blossoms. A delicate little daifuku.
  • Sakuranbo - another seasonal specialty, sweet cherry jelly
  • Yuka - yuzu-flavored white bean paste bar (i.e. yokan)
  • Kikanmnju - a kumquat in syrup, embedded in bean paste, and "baked until fluffy"; this is the one I'm most curious about, of the ones I've not yet sampled.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
That certainly wasn't there when I worked on Piccadilly
Mar. 16th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
Ooh. I shall have to check it out sometime.
Mar. 16th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
I'm dragging Nicolai along there Saturday or Sunday, I think. Very exciting!
Mar. 17th, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
If you buy for consumption later on, check expiry dates first. Some of the treats I bought needed to be eaten within the next 3-5 days.
Mar. 16th, 2006 02:05 am (UTC)
Yum. But it's only about 8000 miles away!
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:35 am (UTC)
New York has one. As does Taipai, but Japan is closer than that. None of those locations are, however, convenient, I suspect.

You have a Moomin user picture!!
Mar. 16th, 2006 02:19 am (UTC)
I had a sakura jelly when I last went to the Japanese supermarket. I love japanese desserts. That place sound pretty cool! Oh I saw your post about emails not getting through. did you get my reply to you comment saying I could stay over with ya? Cause I'd love to :D
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:33 am (UTC)
I did receive your reply and am looking forward to your visit! I'm fairly sure I just received the last of the inbound overdue messages this morning, and I've been able to send again as of yesterday evening.
Mar. 16th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
Also love most Japanese food. I don't know if it's available over there, but it might be in Canada, and Trader Joe's (and Costco, I think) carry a wonderful thing. Mochi-covered green tea ice cream. The other flavors are nasty, but the green tea? yum. But then, I am a huge mochi fan ;-)
Mar. 16th, 2006 09:39 am (UTC)
There's a Minamoto Kitchoan in New York. 608 Fifth Ave.

Mochi-covered green tea ice cream really does sound very good. I have a bag of mochi ready for toasting in my cupboard right now, but it's been ages since I've had green tea ice cream. I've still not been to a Trader Joe's. My sister swears by them.
Mar. 17th, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
TJ's is fantabulous -- although really not. I'm torn, because the prices are fantastic, the quality is great, they have a super wine selection (and liquor, where applicable -- the store in Santa Barbara generally has 15 y.o. port-wine-cask aged Glenmorangie for about $30 a bottle) -- But. They overpackage their veg, and nothing is local, so the benefits are wuiter possibly outweighed by the fact that they ship everything all over the US.
Mar. 16th, 2006 08:33 am (UTC)
Drat! I would be attending Council meeting of A Society at Burlington House next week, except that I am going to be in Amsterdam at conference instead. I usually take this opportunity of being in the vicinity to go to Fortnum and Mason, but this sounds as though it would vaut le detour.
Apr. 7th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
i was deperately looking for this place!!! i came across your post and really appreciate the information... If you want some decetn anime check out the link on my journal...

or http://www.d4n.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=anime

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )