Tucked away in Ueno Park lies a little piece of sweet tooth heaven. Opened in 1915, Shin-Uguisu Tei is a traditionally-minded cafe known for its uguisu dango.
Dango is essentially a sweet dumpling made from rice flour (mochiku) and uguisu dango is one of its many varieties.
Named after the Japanese bush warbler (uguisu) whose melodic cry is famous when spring starts, uguisu dango comprises three dumplings of differing colours - green, red and white. Sweet red bean (azuki) or white bean (shiro-an) pastes are used as fillings.
For ¥600, a set of three dumplings will be served with a perfectly matched cup of green tea. Everything here is handmade, giving further flavour to an already quintessential Japanese culinary experience. A springtime visit surrounded by blooming cherry blossoms is heaven. A takeaway 'omiyage' option for ¥650 is also available.
The approach to the cafe is a picturesque leafy pathway where you'll have the choice of dining indoors or out. Go with whichever tickles your fancy; they're both fine.
Hand drawn menus also feature. Charming doesn't do them justice; they really are lovely. Don’t worry if you can't read Japanese, as there is an English menu to help you get by.
Curiously, while Shin-Uguisu Tei's signature dish is a delicate sweet, they also offer a warm-your-belly bowl of oden, a Japanese hot pot of varying ingredients stewed in a light dashi broth that is great during the cooler months.
Next time you visit Ueno Park, do yourself a favour and make your way to Shin-Uguisu Tei. With delicate flavours and an understated ambience, you can't go wrong.