As the fall chill sets in, the Tokyo streets will fill with the warm sweet smell of roasting. You might be wondering, what is that smells, chestnuts? And in some cases the answer will be yes! Japanese chestnuts, called kuri are a popular fall food, but if you notice a distinct sweetness to the smell, it’s most likely something a little yammier. Let us introduce you to the yakiimo.
Yakiimo, translating to baked sweet potato, is a fall favorite snack in Japan. It can be purchased pre-roasted in supermarkets and even the mega all-purpose discount store, Don Quixote. However, for the sweet potato connoisseur, there are a select group of stores in Tokyo that specialize in yakiimo and yakiimo alone.
After we explain a little bit about the way sweet potato is eaten in Japan, we’ll introduce you to the 3 best yakiimo specialty stores in Tokyo to satisfy your sweet (potato?) tooth.
Get to Know Your Sweet Potato
Several different types of sweet potato are eaten in Japan. Depending on the variety, the texture, sweetness, and color vary greatly. Here are some of the most distinct types of sweet potato you’ll find in Japan.
Full of carotene that lends the anno-imo its rich orange hue, this potato has a melt in your mouth texture. This is one of the varieties that carries the most moisture and is super smooth to eat. The skin of the anno-imo tends to be a tan color, with the flesh being nearly orange as a carrot.
With a name like ‘golden time’ how could you expect anything less than something that tastes like a cloud. Kintoimo is your classic golden sweet potato, with a hearty texture and .
Beni-imo is representative sweet potato of Okinawa. Often sold in the form of sweet potato tarts, the beni-imo is known for its deep purple color, part of what makes it an antioxidant superfood. (Some people believe that Okinawa having the longest life expectancy in Japan is linked to a diet of nutrient rich foods including the the beni-imo). Not only is the flesh of the beni-imo royal purple, the skin (edible and full of fiber!) is also a deep purple color.
So if your mouth isn’t already watering… Now we’d like to introduce to you the top three specialty stores for buying Yakiimo this fall season.
１．Yakimo Senmonten Fuji (Setagaya)
Talk about variety! This store steams up 8 varieties of sweet potato. Take a peak at their menu below:
Getting one of these steaming yaki-imo will be relatively kind to your budget, with the menu price ranging from 250-500円. The closest station, Gyotoku Station is famous for its temple featuring thousands of lucky cats! Make sure to stop by after you’ve had your fill of wholesome sweet potato.
Address: 〒154-0021 Tokyo-to Setagaya-ku Gyotoku 1-7-11
2. Amendoro (Sendagi)
Think sweet potato, but a little more refined. Amendoro specializes in a number of desserts crafted out of high quality sweet potato. Their signature policy is to never use refine sugar, rather, all their delicious desserts are sweetened with syrup extracted from different varieties of sweet potato. In addition to cakes, shoestring cut sweet potato simmered in sweet syrup, and soft-serve ice cream, the syrup itself can also be purchased here.
Address: 〒113-0022 Tokyo-to Bunkyo-ku Senday 2-28-8
3. La Poppo Farm (Multiple Locations: Shinjuku, Shibuya, Asagaya Kinshicho, Sky Tree)
Our last selection is actually a chain store that you can find all over Tokyo. The great thing about La Poppo Farm is the variety you will find in sweet potato depending on the season. They do not simply roast the sweet potato, but they prepare the dessert know as ‘sweet potato’ (スイートポテト) in Japan.
Note, the English sweet potato and Japanese sweet potato are totally different! The Japanese ‘sweet potato’ dessert is prepared by roasting the sweet potato, mashing the inner potato into a smooth past, often sweetened and mixed with cream and egg yolk before it is baked once again. Some of its seasonal speciality flavors have included Strawberry Cream and Caramel Apple.
Address: Multiple, See Site for Details.