Tokyo Sweets

Wandering out of Yasukuni shrine, I took a short jaunt on the Chiyoda Sakura Walk. The sakura were already fading at the tail end of the cherry blossom season. Many people were in the park, enjoying the beautiful environs and weather. Couples in love were cycling together in boats in the river below.

I hadn’t had anything to eat for the day yet. It was about 10:30am and I passed by Gram Cafรฉ. It was opening at 11, but already a short queue was forming. Their poster advertised their special thick pancakes for 950 yen. They make only 20 batches at three different times a day, the first time being at 11am. I guess I was lucky to come across it right at this time.

I write my name on the queuelist and wait for my turn. After 35 minutes, shortly after opening, I am allowed into the well-lit and spacious cafรฉ. I take my seat on a bar table facing the window, and order the special pancakes set. It takes about another half an hour to emerge from the kitchen.

The wait rewards me with three thick pancakes sitting pretty next to a dollop of whipped cream and a smattering of fine icing sugar over everything. It smells eggy! The butter resting on top is already slowly melting into the warm pancakes. I take a bite; it is soft and puffy, like a cloud that has been condensed into solid food. The syrup further sweeten the deal, and the whipped cream is too tasty to have come from a can. As I tuck into this delightful late breakfast, I have a nice view of falling cherry blossom petals.

It was my last day in Tokyo, so I went back to my hostel to check out and get to Tokyo Station for the train out to Narita. I was also planning to visit a restaurant nearby called Tensuke famed for their tempura, but it wasn’t open that day for lunch, sadly. On the way out, I sated my curiosity about whether the teriyaki burger at the Japanese McDonald’s was any good. My verdict: not really.

At Tokyo station, I took my last chance to eat a Japanese sweet at Mihashi, which served anmitsu. This dessert came to my attention when I had watched the first episode of Kantaro: The Sweet-Toothed Salaryman, and I had to try it. It usually consists of a dry combination of agar jelly cubes, azuki red bean paste, boiled peas, and slices of fruit.

Being a solo diner, I was able to be quickly seated by myself at the corner, skipping most of the already short queue. There were plenty of variations of the anmitsu I could try, but I decided to go for the seasonal one which offered a scoop of sakura ice-cream, a flavour which I had grown to love.

I tried to savour it as slowly as possible, but eventually, the bowl was empty. It was a sweet representation of my lovely spring over here in Japan: the experience of sakura amidst refreshing cool weather. But like this dessert, it had to end eventually. I left Mihashi with my backpack and headed for the train platform towards Narita, where I had one night left before flying back.

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