Japanese Sweets and Confectionary
If you’ve ever seen the matcha flavoured KitKat in Asian food shops across the UK, then it might have crossed your mind that the Japanese opinion of great tasting sweets and chocolate might differ somewhat from the average British individual’s. We think that Japan’s taste for sweets is incredibly inventive – unafraid to rewrite the rules of desert, Japanese sweets can take pudding to another level and in this blog, we’re showcasing our favourite flavours and inventions currently taking Japan’s confectionery industry by storm.
Perhaps the most famous of Japanese sweets, these chocolate coated sticks are utterly delectable and come in a wide variety of flavours, from plain to cookies and cream (and of course there’s a matcha version). They’re great for stirring a hot chocolate or sharing with friends, and some people like to attempt to re-enact the spaghetti scene from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp with their Pocky.
Pocky comes in many flavours, including Brazilian Orange, Coconut, and even Adult Amber Whiskey. There are plenty of flavours for you to explore and share with Pocky, and some people even attempt to collect them.
This is the name given to the sweets eaten and made during the Edo period in Japan. This was between the 18th and 19th century and was a time when Japan enjoyed some trade with European countries. Until this point, sugar was quite scarce in Japan, but trade enabled Japan to enjoy more sugar, which led to the creation of wagashi sweets – a few of which use sugar.
Wagashi is made mostly from a combination of mochi and pastes constructed from red beans and chestnuts and is typically enjoyed alongside matcha. The designs of wagashi are inspired by the seasons, so you can expect a variety of flowers and natural scenes if you are looking to buy a box of wagashi.
If you’ve ever wanted to try Autumn Sweet Potato flavoured KitKat, then you should be looking towards Japan. Japanese KitKats are weird and wonderful, with all the flavours you could ever dream of.
The Japanese words for good luck are ‘kitto katsu’, which sounds enough like KitKat for the tradition of buying friends a KitKat to wish them good luck, and thus the Japanese KitKat revolution began. Alongside a range of imaginative flavours, there are even KitKats based on Japanese regions! The Kyoto Edition Kitkat is a roasted green tea flavour, whereas Kyushu boasts a brilliant Amaou Strawberry flavour KitKat.
If you’re looking to feel a little more luxurious with Japanese sweets, then you should look into the Sublime KitKat series which use high-end cocoa beans to produce the ultimate KitKat.
Somewhere between a cake, a waffle, and a fish is the Taiyaki. Fortunately, Taiyaki tastes nothing like fish, it’s all about the shape. Taiyaki is most commonly filled with anzuki (red bean) paste, but chocolate, custard and matcha filling are also fairly common.
The Taiyaki is made from pancake or waffle batter which is placed into a fish mould. Another common filling for Taiyaki is ice cream, and this has been adapted to create ice creams that look like the taiyaki. Other alternatives to the traditional taiyaki include a Pokémon variety, as there is a shop in Japan which has created a Magikarp mold for its exclusive desert.
Taiyaki may be as old as the Meiji era, which occurred between 1868 and 1912.
Strawberry Shortcake Christmas Tradition
The Japanese version of a strawberry shortcake differs somewhat to a Western one, as do the traditions behind its popularity in Japan. This cake is considered a classic celebration cake in Japan and is frequently bought for birthdays and Christmas alike. The cake itself differs somewhat from the sugary biscuit many of our readers familiar with the shortbread might be picturing, instead, strawberry shortcake uses two or three layers of sponge cake, fresh strawberries, cream fillings and frostings.
At our Japanese restaurant in Manchester and our Japanese restaurant in Liverpool, we offer a wide variety of Japanese cuisine for you to try and enjoy. We have our own strawberry shortcake on our Christmas dessert menu, so be sure to visit us during celebration events. We also serve a variety of puddings on our normal dessert menu, including green tea ice cream, cheesecake of the day and banana tempura. We hope to see you soon!