Friday, February 20, 2009

Sakuraya / Dainobu

Sakuraya Green Tea Daifuku

Dainobu, $2.80/4

Visiting New York 10 years ago, a Japanese businessman was struck by the freshess and variety on offer at New York-style delis. On Christmas Eve last year, he opened
Dainobu Japanese Deli + Grocery. The bright, shiny shop might still have that new-store smell were it not for the aromas wafting from the open kitchen in the back. The deli churns out a huge range of bentos, noodles, and rice balls, the grocery section claims to stock some 2000 products, and a prominently placed cooler spills over with a good selection of workaday Japanese sweets--not artisanal, but tasty.

Several of the brands are available nationwide so I went for one I hadn't seen before, Green Tea Daifuku from Sakuraya, a Japanese confectionery company based in Flushing. Although the daifuku were clearly machine-made (note the extrusion belly-button), the mochi was fresh and succulent, and the paste of white beans, egg yolk, and green tea was creamy and light and smelled like freshly mown grass. Sakuraya makes a number of other mochi variants and a cream puff that several reviewers consider the best in the city.

From Dainobu it's only a few steps down to the Japan Society; the park across the street is a pleasant place to have a rice ball and daifuku picnic before seeing the latest exhibition.

Sakuraya Japanese Confection Inc.
11319 14th Rd, College Point, NY 11356

Dainobu Japanese Deli + Grocery
129 e 47th St., New York, NY (Lexington/3rd)


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