My favourite wagashi with Yuichi Murakami of Bondo

· Saturday April 18, 2015

Yuichi Murakami is the owner of Kichijoji's Bondo, an independent store focusing on well-crafted, handmade goods that gain beauty through use. For the latest in our series of local favourites, Yuichi discussed his love for Toraya's wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) over a delicious bowl of anmitsu.

“I first visited Toraya about four or five years ago to buy some seasonal wagashi as gifts. It's quite a famous store and so I had often wondered how good their sweets actually were. When I finally tasted some of their wagashi, they were so delicious that I decided that anybody would be grateful to receive them.

Last year I visited so often that it felt like I was here almost every week [laughs]. I would often go out for a meal and then stop by this store, or the one in Akasaka, for tea and sweets. In summer I always order kakigori (shaved ice dessert) and when it’s cool like today I usually go for anmitsu (agar-based dessert).

The thing that I love about Toraya's anmitsu is the fact that all the ingredients – from the bean paste to the agar, syrup and so on – have been made especially, and so not only are they delicious in their own right, but when eaten together they combine with the most amazing harmony.

Recently there’s been somewhat of a kakigori 'boom', which has meant that many of the famous stores have hour-long queues in summer. I’ve been to lots of those places but have come to the conclusion that Toraya is the best. It's not as busy, and their matcha-flavoured kakigori balances flavour and sweetness – plus it comes with green tea to warm you up afterwards [laughs].

Although the brand has a long history, this store feels very modern – everything from the menu to the interior and the packaging is done so beautifully. If you love wagashi or it’s your first time, I’d certainly recommend coming here. How else can I explain… everything is perfect!“

A confectioner with a history that dates back to the early 16th century Kyoto, Toraya has stores, tearooms and sweets counters dotted throughout the country. Located amongst the food purveyors and eateries of Tokyo Midtown's Galleria, the Roppongi store consists of a sleek cafe, gallery and retail space. Alongside packaged sweets and colourful accessories, regular exhibitions present traditional sweets as seen through the eyes of contemporary artists and designers. And so whether it's a bowl of anmitsu, sweet kakigori, or a box of yokan-to-go, each of Toraya’s creations is an artwork in itself.