Tokyo is a haven for food-enthusiast travelers, but its dessert scene is often overlooked in favor of savory staples like sushi and ramen. While these dishes are certainly delicious in their own right, sweets are an essential part of the local culture in Tokyo, where tradition and innovation come together to create a rich, and, dare we say, quirky, culinary landscape. Read on to learn more about some of the best desserts to try in the Japanese capital.
Wagashi is a confection made from sticky rice that’s been pounded into a paste and combined with other ingredients before being molded into distinct shapes. There are many different types of wagashi, and most of them are typically prepared using only plant-based ingredients, making wagashi the perfect treat for vegans. Enjoy it on its own or in the traditional Japanese fashion with a cup of green tea.
Fish doesn’t exactly scream “dessert” in most cultures, but that didn’t stop the Japanese from creating a pastry shaped like a sea bream. Taiyaki is a popular street treat consisting of a fish-shaped cake filled with sweetened red bean paste, sweet potato, or chocolate. The best place to try it is in Tokyo’s Minato City neighborhood at Naniwaya Sōhonten, where they’ve been making traditional taiyaki for over 100 years.
If ice cream is your jam, be sure to try kakigori, a Japanese take on shaved ice sweetened with a variety of syrups and condensed milk. Some of the most common flavors include strawberry, lemon, and green tea, with fresh fruit, red beans, and even ice cream serving as popular toppings.