musings travel

Around the world in 80 Days: Day 29, Japanese Sweets 2

Welp, Japan continues to make sweets for me to sample despite my pleas for them to stop all production so I can become a lean, dangerous, exercise machine.  I haven’t put myself on a scale since I’ve been here but my clothes still fit me, so there’s that.  And the Saitama challenge?  A memory.  Distant.  A gentle whisper on the breeze drowned out by Taiko drums on Saturday nights.

Today’s post is a bit of a special edition because I want to highlight a local Onishi store that makes crackers.

Ok.  Seriously.  These crackers.  These crackers, guys.

This is the storefront of the cute little place that is chock-full of sweets.  It’s my second time here for these crackers so I can already tell you that I am rating them highly.  There’s a big language barrier here but my trusty google translate app helps me get my questions answered.  The first time I came, I gleaned from the woman at the counter that it was her and her husband’s shop and he makes the crackers.  She opened a package for me to sample and I went from buying a pack of 10 to buying a pack of 50.  They didn’t last long.  They are light, fresh, crispy, buttery, and sweet.  They are almost sweet enough to be considered a cookie.

The second time I went I asked if I could take photos and they were happy to oblige.  I was excited to see her husband actually making the crackers there.  He even motioned for me to come around the back to get some shots of him in action!  The crackers definitely meet my qualifications for something I want to put in my mouth.

Here’s a delicate bundle.  Another tidbit that I learned is that the water used to make these crackers comes from a nearby onsen.  Know what an onsen is?  It’s a natural spring in Japan (there are oodles of them) where people remove all of their clothing and immerse their whole bodies for a nice long soak.  So there we have it.  The secret ingredient in these addictive crackers is people.  Mmmmm.  People.

I give these crackers a 10.  I will return and buy more, mos def.

Speaking of eating people, I promised a review of these.  It took me awhile to finally eat one.  I was expecting them to be filled with beans but I was not expecting these to be good.  They were.  Outer covering is a soft, sweet, wheat-based pancake textured bread.  Inside, a nice bean paste.  Pleasantly surprised.  I give them an 8.  Will buy again.

These… things… cookies?  Crackers?  They looked so interesting, like little board game pieces with bas relief images on the top.  I had to bite down on it with my stronger teeth on the side of my mouth.  Sweet, hard, flour-y.  Not impressed.  I think they might actually be game pieces.  I give them a 2.  Not buying them again.  I’ll probably give them to the chickens.  The chickens will probably wonder why I’m giving them game pieces.

This also looked interesting and it looked like there was a top and a bottom half to it so I thought there would be cream inside.  Nope.  It’s hard and crunchy and airy.  As you chew, it quickly breaks down into what I can only imagine is pure granulated sugar.  It wasn’t horrible, but definitely not something I’m interested in eating again.  I give it a 4.  That’s generous.  Maybe a 3.

This is a chocolate filled fish.

It’s basically a giant sugar wafer with aerated chocolate in the middle.  It was good!  I give it a 5.  If I were 12, I’d buy it again.

This little rice flour sweet is pretty good.

I got this from another sweet shop a few doors down from my studio.  Across from that sweet shop is yet another sweet shop.  I like to imagine that the two little old sweet shop ladies glare at each other from across the way on a daily basis, uttering quiet Japanese obscenities while holding tight smiles.  Maybe they come up with cute and passive aggressive ways to sabotage each others confections, yet through some random chance or strange misunderstanding the other one comes out ok in the end.  Like a Spy vs. Spy of sweet little old Japanese ladies.  I’m going to put in for a copyright to that TV series right now.  At any rate, sweet shop lady “A” handed me this sweet when I asked her to give me her favorite.  It’s not a mochi type covering but it is made of rice.  She was calling it “rice powder.”  Cake-y doesn’t describe it.  It’s more dense and not moist.  It’s a decent sweet.  I’ll give it a 5.  I’ve had two but probably won’t buy it again.

Now for this crazy thing.

The first one was given to me by the amazing Yasuko at her shop.  She asked me if I liked cream puffs and I said yes.  She brought this to me and I was surprised to see that it was from 7-11.  It is a Japanese cream puff made from yams, both the outer dough and the cream inside.  Most of the first one ended up all over my chin and fingers.  I had to buy another one for this, ahem, post, so that I could get some photos.  I managed to get most of it in the proper hole in my head.

The creamy, yammy, pearl in the oyster.

I give this a 9, though I’m probably not going to buy another one because I’m pretty sure it’s bad for my health.

That’s it!  Love you guys!  Thanks so much for reading.



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