We’ve never tried sweets with meat on them before…

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato, who is also one of our many foodie reporters, is a big fan of the fact that in recent years it’s a lot easier to find seriously authentic Chinese food in Tokyo. With the import of popular chain restaurants from the mainland and Hong Kong like TanJai SamGor and a greater variety of authentic dishes now available in the city, Mr. Sato now has so many options that he could eat Chinese food every day for weeks and still have more to choose from.

That’s why he was excited to check out a place called NANATEA & Tsutsumi, a sweets shop selling lots of different desserts inspired by Chinese flavors. Though it has another branch in the Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo, the shop he visited is located in Ikebukuro and was called the NANATEA & Tsutsumi Ikebukuro Factory, since it was attached to a production warehouse.

There, Mr. Sato found something he had never seen before: a sweet made with pork floss. “Huh? Does that mean this sweet is made with meat?!” Mr. Sato wondered.

Bewildered, he quickly looked up what pork floss is, and found out that it’s made from meat gently simmered in a pressure cooker, then mashed and roasted until it turns into a fluffy, fibrous form. It’s sort of like denpu, or fish floss, which is made from fish and is a popular ingredient in chirashizushi. In other words, it’s a form of processed meat.

To use that in a sweet…Mr. Sato could not even imagine what that might taste like. The shop sold lots of different things beyond the pork floss sweets, including financiers, cookies, cakes, and tiramisu, so Mr. Sato assumed they knew their way around desserts. If they made a sweet with pork, it must be good, right?!

It turned out the shop sold three different kinds of pork floss sweets, so he bought one of each to try, plus a non-meat sweet for good measure.

The first item he tried was the Mochi Tsutsumi Pork Floss Cake (300 yen [US$2.27]). The fuzzy, delicate texture of this cake that you see here was provided by the pork floss.

It was composed of a slab of milk mochi sandwiched between two thin cakes, which were then covered with pork floss. A taste test revealed that the pork floss was super salty, and the mochi was super sweet. With each bite and each chew, the flavor swapped between sweet and salty; they never meshed, only battled for dominance over his tongue. Mr. Sato couldn’t decide what he was tasting. Both his tongue and his brain were confused.

Next, he tried the Pork Floss Roll Cake (350 yen). It was a roll cake with cut sides that seemed to have been dipped in pork floss.

In between the rolls of cake, where ordinarily the icing would be, was some kind of sauce that felt a bit like mayonnaise, which gave the cake a kind of acidity. With the exterior sprinkled with green onions, the whole concoction had a very complex mixture of flavors that continued to bamboozle Mr. Sato’s senses.

The last of the pork floss sweets was the Floss Negi Tsutsumi Pie-fuu Yaki (250 yen), which roughly translates to “Tsutsumi’s pie-style baked sweet with pork floss and green onions”. It looked a lot simpler, so Mr. Sato hoped his taste buds could handle it.

This one was really good! The crispy pie crust was filled with pork floss and green onions, which had a mild saltiness that really drew out the sweetness of the pie batter. Mr. Sato devoured this one with relief.

Lastly, Mr. Sato tried the Ran’ou Pie Tsutsumi (300 yen). This one didn’t have pork floss in it, but it did contain a duck egg yolk and red bean paste.

This was so good it could be addictive. The salt-preserved duck egg yolk was fermented in Shaoxing wine, so it was quite salty. Put together with red bean paste made it a dish that you might not find in Japanese cuisine. Mr. Sato liked it, though he thought it was better suited as a drinking snack than a sweet or a dessert.

In the end, all of the desserts that Mr. Sato tried from NANATEA & Tsutsumi were unique and intriguing, surpassing the originality of even the next-level fruit daifuku he tried last month. If you want to try them, you don’t necessarily have to be in Tokyo, either; the Pork Floss Roll Cake, at least, can be ordered online through Rakuten and shipped to anywhere in the country. If you’re interested, definitely give it a taste!

Shop Information
NANATEA & Tsutsumi Ikebukuro Factory Branch / NANATEA & Tsutsumi 池袋ファクトリー店
Address: Tokyo-to Toshima-ku Nishi-Ikebukuro 3-32-5 Rikkyo Street Square 1F
東京都豊島区西池袋3丁目32-5 立教ストリートスクエア1F
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Closed for the New Year

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