Author: Richard Perkins
Photos/Videos Taken: 2021/04/30
Address: 2-11-3 Nihombashi-ningyocho,
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 柳屋 (yanagiya) in the Chūō 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 たいやきわかば (taiyaki wakaba) in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo.
Yanagiya first opened its doors back in 1916. This is a small shop that boasts the word 高級 (kōkyū) on the sign just outside of the shop. Kōkyū in Japanese means high-grade or high-quality. What makes these taiyaki high-grade are the ingredients used. After World War II, there were many foods, such as sugar, that were difficult to get a hold of. These foods were considered to be top-quality goods. During the years just after World War II, despite the fact it was difficult to get a hold of sugar, Yanagiya didn’t use any substitute sweeteners in their taiyaki and continued to use sugar. The use of sugar is why the taiyaki here are considered top-quality and is the reason why kōkyū is written on Yanagiya’s sign.