#foodie drink Japan sweet treats

Red bean desserts.

I had my filling of red-bean desserts today. Red bean is a very Asian sweet–I know there are red bean breads in China as well–so, I decided to eat some desserts with red bean to experience the flavors.

Granted, I have had red bean before, but not in the way that I had it today. First, for lunch, I had the dessert pictured on the far left–I forget the exact name of it, but it was warm and the white balls were similar to mochi textures. Apparently this dish was rather healthy.

When I met up with my former classmate in the evening, I tried this “Frozen Green Tea Drink” at Doutor Coffee. It came with red bean and the same mochi bit on top.

I really need to learn how to make these desserts for myself! I imagine they’re a bit complicated, but probably not impossible.

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American sweets in Japan.

Well, well. Looks like Cold Stone Creamery and Krispy Kreme Donuts made their way over to Tokyo. Yeah, I realize I am a little behind on the news, but that’s okay; when I did live in Japan two years ago, I didn’t really pay attention to American foods since I wanted to eat more Japanese foods. However, during this trip, I came to Japan equipped with a little more knowledge about marketing/exporting products/services/etc. overseas thanks to my marketing classes from last year. I was curious to see–what did these companies adapt on their menus in terms of appealing to local tastes? What did they keep the same? How’s it different from in the US?

As you may have noticed in my blog posts from this trip, I have done a lot of comparisons between the American and Japanese cultures. It’s no doubt an interesting topic to talk about, think about–heck, I’ve been discussing differences with my Japanese friends since I’ve arrived here.

Anyway, I digress.

Since the Cold Stone Creamery shop opened downstairs in LUMINE at Tachikawa station, I decided to go check it out today. The line was decent; today’s a Friday, so it’s probably best that I came before the weekend rush. The set-up is different, of course; instead of just ordering at the counter, there’s a “waitress” standing around with menus and a scribble pad. We customers have to wave her down when we’re ready to order (as is customary in most Japanese restaurants). She fills out the sheet of paper with the type of ice cream, size, cone/cup, etc., and then hands the paper to me.

Then, when it’s my turn to approach the counter, I hand the worker behind the counter my piece of paper. She repeats the order back to me to confirm it; then, the ice cream is made. This part is pretty much the same as in the US.

The menu is slightly modified as well; the seasonal special right now is “Green Tea Party”, which is a mix of fluffy yellow cake, green tea ice cream, and some cream. Really Japanese, if you ask me. I looked through the menu carefully and looks like there is no “Birthday Cake Remix,” which is my favorite one in the US. Well, that creation is very American, if you ask me: after all, what’s more All-American than a Birthday Cake? Japanese have birthday cakes, too, but they’re not the same as what Americans eat. Plus, their cakes are not as iconic I guess; I can say that “Green Tea Party” is the Japanese equivalent of the “Birthday Cake Remix”, albeit this creation is probably only available in the spring.

Oh yes, and the portions were smaller (as expected).

Now, my interesting story about Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Well, I was walking down the steps of LUMINE, on my way to Cold Stone for my ice cream; suddenly, I saw some young teenage girls running up the steps with Krispy Kreme boxes and bags, and I felt confused; I had thought that the Krispy Kreme store in Tachikawa was not set to open for another week! So, I felt like I needed to figure out what was going on.

It didn’t take me long to figure out this mystery–I walked outside briefly, and was bombarded with several Krispy Kreme workers shouting out “Free Krispy Kreme donuts!” and directing people to a long line. Well, actually, I wasn’t sure what the women were saying, but people around me were growing really excited and running to the line (!!), so I decided I would follow suit. Got into line, approached the front, and voila–they handed me a large bag with a box of donuts. At first I was skeptical of what exactly was in the box, but after I came home, I found that the box contained a dozen Original Glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. A DOZEN. The regular price for one dozen in Japan is roughly 1600 yen (around $16)!

It’s insane that they were giving out these boxes for free. And what amused me more was just watching the frenzy–why do Japanese love Krispy Kreme so much? When I tried the donuts out, I was expecting the flavor to be slightly altered, but no–these are THE Original Glazed donuts. All-American flavor. This discovery made me feel even more confused–I thought maybe Japanese did not like overly sweet things? I guess my assumption was wrong–I asked a few of my Japanese friends, and they couldn’t explain the phenomenon either. They did mention, however, that the Krispy Kreme store in Shinjuku is always packed–minimum 2-hour wait in line. All for American donuts!

I don’t think I will understand this for awhile; maybe I need to do a little more research. I’m still in shock over the free dozen of donuts….

#foodie Japan sweet treats

Mister Donut

I really love Mister Donut. I went last week to try out the donuts, and realized that the sweetness was rather mild in comparison to American donuts. Most people would probably find that unappealing, but I was elated to discover this. The donuts are lighter, fluffier; the sweetness is small yet satisfying.

Last week, I got a flier/promotional paper announcing Mister Donut’s “New Chocolate Fair”; apparently, this week, from today (April 16) until April 20, the four new chocolate donuts are specially priced at 100 yen each (normally, they sell for 136 yen each). How could I not pass up such a deal?

The four types of donuts are as follows: Regular Chocolate, Double Chocolate, Golden Chocolate, and Coconut. Today, I decided to go with Double Chocolate and Golden Chocolate. I tried the Golden first–I felt like I fell in love immediately. I’m actually not sure what’s sprinkled on the donut (maybe I don’t know the English word for it), but whatever it is, it makes this donut very unique and delicious. Mmm!

The double chocolate was decent; standard chocolate, although not as sweet as American donuts (don’t you love the constant comparisons?). I would have tried all four donuts in one sitting, but I didn’t want to look like a pig (I think ordering two donuts at once already makes me look like a pig in Japan).

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Japanese pastries.

On Saturday, I discovered the delicious smells and tastes of Japanese bakeries all over again. I had forgotten how convenient bakeries usually are in Japan; you walk in, take a tong and a plate, walk around and grab whichever baked goods you want with the tongs. No need to tell someone behind the counter what you want; just grab the pastries and pay up at the register.

Since I discovered this, I went a little overboard this morning with my treats. I actually had the “Mega Muffin” at McDonald’s beforehand, but I still craved something sweet. So I decided to stop by Bakery Crown on the way back to the apartment–went inside, found these treats, and bought them.

Turns out, four baked goods was probably way too much for my half-full stomach. The twist donut was so tasty; the chocolate croissant and the strawberry pastry were also very delectable. The remaining roll was actually filled with spinach, which I didn’t know when I bought it. It was still good as a “meal” roll; however, by the time I got to the fourth roll, I was feeling way too full. I probably should have just bought two, or even just one bread. Sigh…as the saying goes, “People eat with their eyes”; I felt overwhelmed with seeing all the available treats that I couldn’t narrow down my choices enough.

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Excelsior Caffe

It seems that most Japanese cafes have something with green tea in it; I ordered the green tea latte (cold, this time) and was mesmerized by its great flavor. There was an abundance of desserts on display, too, but I decided to go with this blueberry cheesecake. It tasted dry, however, so it didn’t really satiate my sweets craving today.

I probably should have gone for a different cake…but I guess I can’t turn back now, huh.