When most people think of Japanese food, dishes such as sushi and ramen spring to mind. However, Tokyo is sugar obsessed with thousands of dessert cafes, seasonal sweets buffets, bakeries, and patisseries to try. Here are ten of the best desserts to try in Tokyo!
A common Japanese café menu item and a convenience store favorite, fruit sandwiches are always a surprise for western tourists who typically associate sandwiches with savory fillings. The sandwiches started to become popular in Japan from the 1970s onwards, they contain cream and fruit such as strawberries, kiwi, or melon. As well as Tokyo convenience stores, you can find more luxurious versions in cafes around Ginza.
Japanese pancakes are not like the flat crepes found on the streets of Paris. These pancakes come in thick stacks that jiggle, they have a light, fluffy texture and take longer to prepare than regular pancakes. You’ll find them on café menus in Harajuku served with ice cream and fruit. After a portion of these pancakes, you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day!
Popular around Christmas time in Japan, the strawberry shortcake is a Japanese take on the American dessert. It consists of several layers of light sponge cake, with strawberries and cream sandwiched in between them.
Totoro Cream Puffs
One of the most famous Tokyo desserts are the Totoro Cream Puffs from Shirohige's Cream Puff Shop in trendy Shimokitazawa. The whole neighborhood is filled with stylish cafes, but the Totoro Cream Puffs have stolen the hearts of visitors to the area, based on the character from the Studio Ghibli classic movie, My Neighbor Totoro. The cream puffs come in a variety of different flavors such as chocolate, custard, strawberry, and matcha.
“Purin” as it is known in Japanese, is a take on the European crème caramel dessert. Served cold this creamy pudding is doused in bitter caramel sauce and can be found on the menus of traditional cafés around Tokyo known as kissaten. Alternatively, try the Happy Pudding store in Nakameguro.
One of the more traditional Japanese sweets, taiyaki is a popular fish-shaped cake usually filled with red bean paste. You can often find them on sale at festivals in Japan, however, there are still a few dedicated taiyaki stores around Tokyo, particularly in the Shimotakaido neighborhood.
Japan’s take on this classic dessert combines a cheesecake with a souffle rather than the traditional biscuit base you’d find in the New York counterpart. You’ll find souffle cheesecake on the menus at many cafes throughout Tokyo, Ginza bakery Cozy Corner is a particularly popular spot.
A Japanese cake made from glutinous rice, mochi is usually filled with sweet red bean paste and is normally eaten during the New Year period in Japan. You can find mochi in confectionary shops throughout Tokyo, a popular variation is strawberry daifuku, which consists of strawberries covered in red bean paste and a chewy outer layer of mochi.
Similar to American sundaes, Japanese parfaits are loaded with fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, and often include cornflakes or granola to add an extra crunch! They are popular dessert items in traditional cafes around Tokyo, try the strawberry parfait at Nishimura Fruits Parlor in Shibuya which has been open since 1936.
Wagashi are individually served Japanese sweets, usually paired with green tea. There are many variations of wagashi to try and they are often reflective of the season. Some of Tokyo’s most famous wagashi shops include Toraya in Roppongi, originally founded in Kyoto during the sixteenth century, and Akebono in Ginza, who also supply the food halls of many of Tokyo’s department stores.