This sweet mochi treat is both hard to beat and hard to eat.

There’s some pretty cool stuff on the top shopping floor of Japanese department store Parco’s Shibuya branch in downtown Tokyo. That’s where you’ll find the Nintendo Tokyo specialty shop, for example, as well as a branch of the Pokémon Center megastore.

But the building’s basement is also worth a visit, because it houses an awesome selection of restaurants and cafes. On her most recent visit, our Japanese-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake’s sweet tooth was commanding her to get some dessert, and she was happy to obey when she spotted Saryo Suisen.

The Kyoto-based dessert cafe offers a large lineup of tea-based desserts, and the one that caught Mariko’s attention is the Dekitate On-warabimochi. Let’s unpack what that name means. Warabimochi is a kind of rice cake dessert, differentiated from other types of sweet mochi by its jiggly texture. Dekitate means “freshly made,” also implying extra deliciousness. And on? That means “hot” in Japanese (like how onsen is the Japanese word for “hot spring”).

So in other words, Saryo Suisen has freshly made hot warabimochi, even though warabimochi is ordinarily eaten at room temperature. Even Mariko, a lifelong mochi fan, had never had hot warabimochi, but now that she knew it existed, she also knew that she had to eat it, so she stepped inside the cafe, took a seat, and placed her order.

After about a 10-minute wait, the server brought a tray to her table, and Mariko was both surprised and delighted. Warabimochi usually comes pre-cut into bite-sized morsels, like this…

…but Saryo Suisen’s Dekitate On-warabimochi, though, gives you a giant slab of warabimochi, like it’s a steak or pork cutlet!

The Dekitate On-warabimochi can be ordered in a varieties, and Mariko opted for the hojicha (roasted green tea) flavor. The mochi was dusted with kinako (sweet roasted soybean powder) and accompanied by containers of more kinako and kuromitsu (Japanese brown sugar molasses), plus anko (sweet red beans) and shiratama (round mochi dumplings on the side). The 1,480-yen (US$11.40) set also comes with a pot of tea, and Mariko felt her heart filling with glee as she gazed down at the spread.

Unable to resist any longer, she grabbed her chopsticks and picked up a mouthful of mochi.

Or, more accurately, she tried to pick up a mouthful. The mass of mochi is so gooey that, honestly, chopsticks are pretty useless. Thankfully, Saryo Suisen also provides you with a flat, spatula-like wooden spoon that’s easier to eat the dessert with.

Of course, “easier than impossible” and “actually easy” are two different things, and even using the spoon, the Dekitate On-warabimochi is both dessert and manual dexterity test. Mariko did eventually develop a technique, though, of scooping up some mochi, then rotating the spoon around like she was wrapping spaghetti around a fork.

And the effort was well worth it! The Dekitate On-warabimochi is delicious but not overpoweringly sweet, with plenty of roasted green tea flavor reaching and enrapturing Mariko’s taste receptors. Eventually she got good enough at manipulating the spoon that she was able to balance the shiratama dumplings on it, and that just kicked the tasty goodness up another notch.

As her hand and fingers developed muscle memory, the motions that had at first felt awkward became fun, adding an entertainment element to her dessert.

Mariko was having so much fun that she decided to snap a selfie, and here’s where she came across the one and only downside of the Dekitate On-warabimochi, which is…

…you’ll probably look pretty weird while you’re eating it. The incredibly stretchy and gooey consistency makes it all but impossible to cleanly and cutely pop a bit in your mouth, and especially as you get towards the end of the dessert, what you’re doing becomes closer to “slurping” than “eating.”

Mariko couldn’t help thinking of the fact that most of Parco’s floors are filled with fashionable boutiques, and that the building, as well as the Shibuya neighborhood in general, is a popular date spot. So as delicious as the Dekitate On-warabimochi is, Mariko wouldn’t recommend it as a first-date choice, if you’re trying to leave an elegant, sophisticated impression. It is, however, an excellent option if you’re eating with people you know won’t mind you looking messy if the payoff is a great dessert, or if the only person you’ve got plans to see that day is the life-size wedding dress anime girl statue up on Parco’s fifth floor.

Cafe information
Saryo Suisen / 茶寮翠泉
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku. Udagawacho 15-1, Shibuya Parco basement level 1
東京都渋谷区宇田川町15-1 渋谷PARCO B1F
Open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]