Strolling through Kawagoe's famous Kurazukuri Zone (Old Storehouse Zone), we spied a sign advertising sweet potato onigiri. Curiosity and hunger made us duck into a small and dark shopping alley where we found Imotaro, a humble shop run by men who seemed to have been grilling onigiri since the Showa Era.
What they were grilling though does not have a grain of rice in it (some shops do sell grilled rice balls and you must try them too!) but is 100% pure sweet potato, no added sugar. Imotaro's sweet potatoes are sourced from Kawagoe's farmers. The sweet potato's skin has been peeled off, and the bright yellow starchy goodness inside has been mashed, kneaded and shaped into triangles and grilled on an iron plate. Once they're slightly browned, they're ready.
The jolly old men behind the grill cajoled us to try even just one piece. At ¥180, who could say no to that? We did and immediately regretted not getting a pack of 3 for ¥500, which was a better value. You could buy a pack of 6 for ¥1,000, and in a show of good humor, a sign says "for a pack of 100... please contact us (^^)".
What Imotaro sells is the pure deliciousness of sweet potatoes, nothing more and nothing less. It is no wonder that they have been featured numerous times on TV and magazines.
This humble looking shop opens at 10:00 and closes at 6:00 p.m. or when they're sold out for the day. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays except when it's a National Holiday, in which case, they close the following day.