Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Day fifteen: Shinkomochi / しんこもち

Murakara, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan 1F, 2-10-1 Yurakucho, ¥125

On my way to ogle the Ginza district’s snazzy tea shops, I swung by the tourist office and while I was ransacking the brochure racks, the skies opened. Since it was raining so hard I couldn’t see the cross street, I elected to spend a little time in a shop in the same building.

Like the depachika stalls I’ve mentioned, Murakara brings together regional delicacies that would otherwise be hard to find in Tokyo. While ransacking the sweets rack, I found today’s treat nestling next to several types of Sendai yubeshi. Although the label was fairly confusing, I think it’s called shinkomochi and I think it’s from Miyagi prefecture. And I think I need to go to Miyagi. Soon.

Yes, I know how it looks, but as with yubeshi, it’s what’s inside that counts. This is the Japanese version of Elvis’s deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. A round patty of doughy rice and wheat mochi is folded around a dollop of sweet red bean paste, decorated with a tiny nubbin of hard candy, and deep fried in soybean oil. Voila: country-fried daifuku.

Like yubeshi, this is a whole-body experience. You only have to pierce the barebones plastic wrapper for the rich scent of hot oil to come wafting out. The crepey fried surface of the mochi leaves oily tracks on everything it touches. At first bite the outside has an almost chewing gum springiness to it, and then your teeth sink into the pocket of less resistance, filled with rich, smooth anko.
While I’m not normally that into fried foods, give me one of these and a cup of coffee for breakfast on a cold morning, and I’d start the day with a smile and a satisfied stomach. And if they’re this good coming out of a plastic wrapper, just imagine them fresh from the fryer.

No comments: