By Michael Ying
I was dubious the first time I heard about taiyaki. A fish-flavored cake? It sounded strange to me, but I’ve heard of stranger foods in Japan. As it turns out, taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake, not a fish-flavored cake. Taiyaki is a popular street food in Japan, and has quickly become one of my favorite sweets.
It is made by pouring a pancake-like batter into a fish-shaped mould, putting in a filling, typically anko (sweet red bean), and then cooking until golden brown. The result is a sweet, delicious, and adorable-looking snack. You can find taiyaki all over, but some of the freshest and best taiyaki is at Kurikoan in Kichijoji. The cake is light and fluffy and the filling is warm, gooey, and perfectly sweet. Biting into a taiyaki from Kurikoan is a joy every time.
Kurikoan’s little stand is located on a busy street in central Kichijoji, and is easily recognizable from its fish-shaped logo. You can watch the staff make the taiyaki right in front of you, and the pastries are served fresh and still hot. Kurikoan rotates through its 50+ different kinds of filling, offering six choices at a time. The classic fillings of red bean, premium cream, and kuriko an (chestnuts and red bean) are always available. There are various limited-time fillings such as chocolate, sesame, and Hokkaido milk cream. Finally, there are many other seasonal specialties available throughout the year, such as purple potato, cherry blossom, sweet peach, green tea, and pumpkin. The seasonal items are changed out very often, so if you find one you like, make sure to get it while it’s hot – literally!
A classic red bean taiyaki is ¥136, and prices go up to ¥205 for some seasonal flavors. You can also get a stamp card. You get one stamp per taiyaki, and get a free taiyaki after 20 stamps. The stand also serves ice cream. Kurikoan is a chain and has many locations in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba. The Kichijoji location is quite popular, and like anything good in Japan, usually has a line. It has a few small benches outside for you to sit and enjoy your taiyaki, or you can take this portable treat on the go.
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