A trip to nostalgic Tokyo would not be complete without strolling through Kagurazaka, an illustrious neighborhood that used to be one of Edo's centers for traditional cuisine and entertainment.
If you wish to sample the most classic of Japanese sweets, 紀の善 Kinozen is an absolute must-visit. Established in 1948, Kinozen is one of Kagurazaka's long-established sweets shops. Despite its unremarkable storefront, there's almost always a line outside.
Kinozen's signature dish is the Matcha Bavarian Cream, ¥961 (tax included). The main feature is a precise square of matcha pudding made from the highest quality green tea from Kyoto. This is adorned on one corner with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and on the other corner, a scoop of sweet red beans. The pudding is silky smooth with a deliciously strong and bitter flavor only the best matcha can deliver. This is balanced off by the light and airy cream. Sweet beans are great by itself, but in this trio, the beans add the richness that completes this popular dessert.
Throughout the year, Kinozen offers seasonal items such as strawberry anmitsu (a dessert with small cubes of white translucent agar jelly) in the spring, kakigori (shaved ice) and shiratama zenzai (dessert with three sticky rice balls) in the summer, chestnut anmitsu and kuzumochi (mochi cakes made from fermented wheat starch) in the cold autumn and winter months.
Kinozen also serves savory dishes for lunch or dinner if you would like to eat something more substantial before dessert. Highly recommended are the kamameshi dishes. Kama is a small iron pot in which rice, meat and vegetables are cooked together. The rice at the bottom which soaks up all the flavor gets slightly burned and crisp, and is the best part of kamameshi. For autumn and winter, duck porridge is quite popular and comes in a size big enough to share.