There’s a new sweet fish in town.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato used to be a regular visitor in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighbourhood, but since limiting his trips around town during the pandemic, it’s now been ages since he last visited.

However, after recently hearing about a new sweets vendor that had opened in the area, he figured it was the perfect time to return for a visit, so he made his way out to the historic district this week, in search of a place called Mucchan Manju.

▼ Mucchan Manju (むっちゃん万十), or “Mutchan Manju” as it’s sometimes rendered in English.

This store, which quietly opened in a back alley in Asakusa last summer, is a branch of a popular chain that hails from Fukuoka in Kyushu. Despite being a well-established brand that’s been in business for over 30 years, few people in Tokyo know about it, as the majority of the branches are located in Fukuoka.

Mr Sato was excited to try such a rare treat, as it looked to be an interesting alternative to taiyaki, a similar-looking baked sweet that’s shaped like a sea bream. Like taiyaki, these treats contained different fillings, and according to the menu, the ham and egg variety was said to be the most popular.

There was an eat-in space inside the store, so Mr Sato was able to eat the products he purchased straight away. He selected two to try — the Ham and Egg (320 yen [US$2.23]) and the Tonton (370 yen), which contains braised pork.

Taking one out of the pack, Mr Sato was greeted by the Mucchan, or “mudskipper” as it’s known in English. Its appearance wasn’t as clearly defined as the sea bream on a taiyaki sweet, but that made it only more adorable.

▼ From the tidal flats to Mr Sato’s mouth.

Taking a bite, Mr Sato found that the dough was pillowy soft — much softer than taiyaki, which is usually slightly crispy. The dough was more like a fluffy castella, which Mr Sato figured was the reason why it was called Mucchan Manju rather than Mucchanyaki.

▼ “Yaki” refers to something that’s grilled or fried, while manju are steamed, giving them a softer texture.

The Ham and Egg was absolutely delicious, and it included a dollop of mayonnaise inside, which was a great pairing. The lightly salty dough and rich mayonnaise actually made the mixture taste a bit like okonomiyaki, which Mr Sato really liked.

As for the Tonton, it too contained mayonnaise, but this time it was mixed with thick bits of pork, which was another winning combination. His only regret after the meal was he was now too full to try one of the sweet varieties on the menu. But hey, that just means he’ll have to swing by Asakusa again to try them, and he recommends you do too, next time you’re in the historic neighbourhood.

Restaurant information
Mucchan Manju Asakusa store / むっちゃん万十 浅草店
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Asakusa 1-32-13-1F
東京都台東区浅草1-32-13 1F
Open 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays and irregular holidays

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