The perfectly Instagram-worthy drink can be found in one of Tokyo’s most bohemian hipster neighborhoods.

For many Japanese, there’s nothing like snacking on a piping hot roasted yakiimo, or Japanese sweet potato, during the colder months. Over the past few years, there’s even been a trend in Japan for drinks made from these roasted tubers of goodness, with one shop’s version in particular recently catching the eye of our Japanese-language reporter Takamichi Furusawa.

The shop in question is called Wokashi na Oimo Imowokashi, and it just opened last August. Its name features an interesting stylistic Japanese spelling (をかしなお芋 芋をかし), which is perhaps perfectly on brand for its location in Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa neighborhood–an area full of vintage clothing stores, trendy cafes, and bohemian music. Takamichi had seen one of the shop’s creations blowing up on social media and resolved to try it for himself. Luckily, Imowokashi is very close to Shimokitazawa Station and he found it easily on the day of his visit.

▼ He likened the simple but stylish exterior to that of an Apple Store (Potato Store?).

A quick glance at the menu revealed all manner of peculiar roasted sweet potato creations for takeout. His attention was quickly drawn, however, to the beverage item named Koikoi: Drinkable Yakiimo (恋来: 飲む焼き芋) for 650 yen (US$5.05). It’s available in either a hot or a cold version, and he decided to go with the “standard” cold one.

Takamichi’s drink arrived after a short wait. Echoing the drink’s name, which literally translates to “love coming,” he fell in love at first sight with its gorgeous appearance. The yellow and purple layers of the main juice were visually striking as products of both purple and yellow sweet potato varieties mixed with soy milk. To top it all off, a skewer of rice dumplings with a sweet potato topping and a large sweet potato chip straddled the top. There was something else unexpected, too–a slip of white paper tied around the straw.

He gently removed the strip and unrolled it.

The paper revealed his very own fortune, similar to the kind you can get at any shrine or temple, but this time with a tuber twist. He had pulled “moderate luck,” which on the scale of possible fortunes wasn’t too bad. There was also a message that read “Just by remembering you will feel as warm as a freshly baked sweet potato.” He didn’t really know how to feel about that, but he decided to delight in this unexpected little freebie.

Now it was definitely time to dig in. Takamichi hesitated for a moment as he tried to decide whether it would be more appropriate to take a gulp or a bite of the drink first. His dry throat got the better of him, so he leaned forward to take a sip from the straw. It was delicious! He took a moment to revel in the sweet sensation flooding his mouth. Mixed with plenty of smooth soy milk, this drink went down very easily.

In fact, the balance between sweet potato and soy milk was exquisite. It wasn’t overly sweet, unlike other versions he’s tried, so he delighted in downing large gulps one after another. This really, quite literally, was what it’s like to drink a sweet potato.

It was time for him to try the skewer. The rice dumplings covered with roasted sweet potato shavings and fragrant black sesame seeds were also on the moderate side of sweetness. Smooth sweet potato paired with chewy dumplings made for a killer combination of textures.

He decided to next try the last remaining topping. The single sweet potato chip added just a hint of sweetness but an enjoyable crunch to the otherwise smooth concoction. He could eat it as it was or dip it in the fresh whipped cream drizzled with sweet dumpling sauce to double the impact. His only complaint was that there was but one chip to chew.

All in all, Imowokashi’s Koikoi: Drinkable Yakiimo is in another kind of beverage league altogether. Takamichi deemed it to be the perfect blend of flavors and textures, and he vows to try the hot version of the drink next. In the meantime, if you won’t be going near Shimokitazawa anytime soon, maybe you can bide your time with whatever roasted sweet potato drink is currently on sale at your local convenience store instead.

Store information
Wokashi na Oimo Imowokashi Shimokitazawa location / をかしなお芋 芋をかし 下北沢店
Address: Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-12-15
東京都世田谷区北沢 2-12-15
Open: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Saturday-Sunday)

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