Get a taste of Hyogo’s Himeji City from the comfort of your very own home.

Whilst travelling throughout Japan, it’s always fun to sample the local specialties that each area has to offer. Ehime Prefecture is known throughout Japan for its oranges, for example. Kumamoto Prefecture’s specialty got turned into a limited edition KitKat flavour. Ask any Japanese person to tell you what food a prefecture or town is known for, and nine times out of ten they’ll be able to tell you.

Recently, our Japanese-language reporter Chie Nomura was craving the regional treat of Hyogo Prefecture’s Himeji: almond toast.

▼ Almond butter from Himeji’s Tairiku Cafe (you can spot the city’s mascot character Shiromaru Hime on the top left corner).

Himeji City is famous for almond butter, and there is one cafe in particular that is well known for it. Opened shortly after the end of World War II, Tairiku is the oldest running cafe in Himeji City. Chie has visited Tairiku before, and was struck not only by its retro-looking interior but at how popular it was. It seemed to be a very special place for many people.

Of course, Chie was keen to visit Tairiku once more to enjoy the almond toast there, but once she found out that there is an online store, she immediately ordered some almond butter to make her own version. Three days later, there was a buttery surprise waiting for her in the mail.

If you’re wondering how to make almond toast at home, here’s what you need-

  • Bread
  • Almond butter
  • … that’s it

▼ Chie’s all ready to make almond toast!

The first step is to coat your piece of bread with the almond butter. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of almond butter.

Next, stick your almond coated bread on the grill and boom. Done. Even the most inept of us could manage this much, right? All you gotta do is just wait for it to get toasted!

Or so Chie thought. It seems she wasn’t paying close enough attention to her buttery creation, because…

Chie’s attempt certainly looked a lot more burnt than the almond toast they serve up at Tairiku. It still smelled and tasted good, but it wasn’t quite right. No matter, Chie still had plenty of bread and butter left to give it another go! This time she’d make sure she was watching the bread at all times, to avoid another toast tragedy.

Chie’s pro chef tip: keep an eye on the toast at all times; that way it won’t get burnt. Probably. This attempt seemed to be going better than the first though, as the sweet almond-y aroma started to appear.

▼ Ta-da! A perfect recreation!

How did it hold up in a taste test, though? Well, Chie gives it two thumbs up. When you bite into the crispy outside of the toast, your mouth is flooded with warm almond butter. It’s like the toast and the butter are working together in perfect harmony, and Chie was pleased at how much it tasted like the Tairiku specialty.

This really could be the perfect morning meal. It goes well with a cup of coffee, and the sugar will help you wake up. Sugar also makes you happy, so if you’re not a morning person this could be the breakfast for you.

By the way, Himeji is also famous for odena kind of Japanese hotpot. If you go to any convenience store throughout Japan during the winter months, you’re sure to see an oden counter near the tills. Usually oden contains a bunch of ingredients like boiled eggs, konjac and chikuwa, a kind of processed fishcake. If you order from Tairiku’s online store, you can get your own ‘oden‘, made entirely from cake.

In Himeji, it’s a custom to eat oden hot-pot with ginger soy sauce, and so included with the oden cake is a special ‘sauce’, made of powdered ginger and white chocolate. Delicious!

Even in its imitation cake form, the oden cake heavily features special ingredients from Himeji. The triangle shaped ‘konjac’ and square shaped ‘fishcake’ are made from rice that is rich in minerals from Himeji’s Yumezen district, the cream from white azuki beans from the Andomi district, and the round ‘boiled egg’ is actually Tairiku’s famous ‘Amondo Queen’ cake, an almond bouchee using fresh butter and salted cheese. You get a real taste of Himeji with each bite. 

▼ Check out the thick butter-y filling in the bouchee!

If you feel like you want to get a taste of Himeji without leaving your home, you can order the Tairiku Almond Butter on their online store, retailing at 626 yen (US$5.80) for 200 grams (7.1 ounces). The Himeji Oden Cake costs slightly less, at 486 yen, and if you’re a fan of cakes looking like other things in general, this Japanese cake creator might just get your taste buds doing a double take!

Related: Tairiku official website
Images: © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]