Author: Richard Perkins
Photos/Videos Taken: 2021/07/31
Address: 1-10 Wakaba, Shinjuku-ku,
In Japan, they have what is referred to as 和菓子 (wagashi). Wagashi are Japanese-style confections. One of those confections is what's known as 鯛焼き (taiyaki). Taiyaki is a confection in the shape of a 鯛 (tai), or sea bream, which is a celebratory fish in Japan said to bring about good luck. The pastry of this confection is like that of a waffle as it’s made from flour. The inside is filled with 餡子 (anko), which is a sweet bean paste made from 小豆 (azuki) beans. Other than anko, you will also find many shops selling taiyaki with custard inside as well, but taiyaki are usually (and more commonly) prepared using anko.
There are delicious and well-known taiyaki all across Japan. One of which is made at たいやきわかば (taiyaki wakaba) in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo. The taiyaki sold here is referred to as one of the three best taiyaki in Tokyo. The other two are 浪花家総本店 (naniwaya sōhonten) in the Minato ward of Tokyo (which is said to be where taiyaki originated) and 柳屋 (yanagiya) in the Chūō ward of Tokyo.
Taiyaki Wakaba first opened its doors back in 1953. The anko used in the taiyaki made here has a slight unique saltiness to it that you won’t find in other taiyaki in Tokyo. This is a perfectly made taiyaki that’s difficult to describe. Theater critic Tsuruo Ando once said, “there should always be anko in the tail of a taiyaki”. Taiyaki Wakaba uses those words as the motto of the shop and continues to make a taiyaki that hasn’t changed a bit.
Other than just taiyaki, Taiyaki Wakaba is also known for its 団子 (dango), boiled or steamed balls of rice flour on a skewer. Depending on the time of year, you can also order かき氷 (kaki-gōri), or shaved ice. This is one shop that’s worth visiting any time of the year.