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.