Do you know what taiyaki is? The literal translation may not be that appealing (baked sea bream), but I promise you the taste is much better! Taiyaki refers to a fish-shaped Japanese sweet (tai is the Japanese word for sea bream, which is a very common fish in Japan). The outside is made of a type of sweet batter/casing, and traditionally it is filled with anko (red bean paste), but these days you can often find them filled with custard, chocolate and various other fillings. Not everyone likes anko, but I happen to love it!
When I told my Japanese friends I was going to live in Yotsuya (more specifically Wakaba, a small area within Yotsuya), many of them immediately mentioned a place called Wakaba Taiyaki. Apparently people come from all over Tokyo to eat the taiyaki from here, and since living in the area I can attest to the fact that on many occasions when I’ve been past the shop there is a huge line of people (ranging from business men to young people to families) waiting to get their taiyaki fix. With a reputation like this, I certainly wanted to try one!
I wasn’t disappointed, and I have been back quite a few times already! They are made on the spot in front of your eyes when you order, so they are always fresh and piping hot. And they don’t skimp on the anko. It is packed in all the way from the head to the tail, something that they are apparently renowned for.
Inside the small shop there are about four small tables that you can sit at and eat your taiyaki, or you can get them to take away. If you eat in the shop there is complimentary Japanese tea and water on tap to help yourself to. Being a very traditional shop, the only filling available is anko. The only other thing they sell is dango (sweet dumplings made from rice flour), which I am yet to try, as I love the taiyaki so much!
So, if you are a taiyaki fan, I definitely recommend finding the time to visit Wakaba Taiyaki and see what all the fuss is about! And even if anko isn’t your thing, these taiyaki make a great omiyage (gift) for Japanese friends if you are visiting their house. They will be amazed and impressed—and at only 180 yen per fish, they are great value too! They can keep for a few days, and can also be frozen and reheated in a toaster oven.