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Earlier this month, we found out that the city of Mino, in Osaka, has been selling tempura maple leaves for at least a hundred years. Since we’ve made it our mission in life to eat everything that can be deep-fried (barring non-food items like deep-fried scissors), we immediately called Hisakuni Kosendo, one Mino’s maple-cooking outfits, and ordered a pack to try for ourselves.

We weren’t sure exactly what to expect from Hisakuni Kosendo’s unusual offering. On its website, the company claims that everyone from Japan’s central Kansai district knows about tempura maple leaves, but when we asked a friend from Hyogo Prefecture, Osaka’s neighbor to the west, all we got was a terse, “Never heard of them.”

Still, our spirits were bolstered when our shipment arrived, packaged in a stylish box containing a half-dozen individually wrapped leaves.

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Hisakuni Kosendo is currently offering a limited-availability sampler set with six different flavors. Aside from salt, green tea, and brown sugar, there were one maple leaf seasoned with shichimi (a mixed spice similar to cayenne pepper) and kinako (roasted soybean flour that tastes a little like cinnamon).

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Rounding out the pack is a single “plain” leaf, although the name’s a bit misleading. All of Hisakuni Kosendo’s tempura maple leaves contain sugar and sesame, so really the plain leaf is more like “original flavor.” They’re all additive-free, too, but don’t think that making them is as easy as going out into the woods, scooping up some fallen leaves, and tossing them into the fryer.

Hisakuni Kosendo maintains its own grove of maple trees, and after harvesting the leaves, they’re soaked in salted water for a year before being cooked.

▼ A surprisingly large amount of work goes into this.

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So how’s the end result? Quite a bit less like a leaf than we’d expected. They’re not crumbly at all. Instead, they have a pleasing crunchiness. The texture is actually pretty close to Japanese snack mainstays karinto crackers and imokempi sweet potato chips.

While Hisakuni Kosendo sells the treats year-round, autumn is obviously their busiest season. As a matter of fact, they’re so busy that as of this writing, they’re only taking orders by telephone, though you can find their phone number and product information on the company’s website here.

We recommend giving them a call before winter sets in. Tasty, seasonally appropriate, and a definite conversation starter, tempura maple leaves might be just about the perfect snack to take with you if you’re heading out with a group of friends to look at the fall colors.

Related: Hisakuni Kosendo
Photos: RocketNews24
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