Lawson rolls out new sweet potato drinks at its special cafe-menu stores.

Right now it’s that time of year again, when sweet potato sweets start showing up all over Japan. So great is Japan’s love for sweet spuds that not only are there all sorts of sweet potato-flavored cakes and confectionaries, there’s also an entire subgenre of sweet potato dessert drinks.

Finding ourselves craving a liquid dessert, we headed out from SoraNews24 headquarters in downtown Tokyo to pick up a sweet potato drink. But while we’re rather regular customers at our local Starbucks branch, this time we instead headed to a nearby branch of convenience store Lawson.

Lawson has just released its new Anno Imo Soy Smoothie, named after the Anno Imo variety of Japanese sweet potato. These are only offered at Lawson branches which include the chain’s special Machi Cafe Plus menu, and while searching one out is a little extra work, the payoff is that the staff will make your drink to order for maximum fresh deliciousness.

▼ This Lawson, just north of the Shinjuku Gyoen park, is the closest Machi Cafe Plus branch to SoraNews24 HQ, and there’s an east Japan location list on the company website here.

The Anno Imo Soy Smoothie is priced at 430 yen (US$2.95), but we splurged on the optional 50-yen upgrade, which adds a whipped cream and chocolate sauce topping. Whether you get the upgrade or not, though, the smoothie includes a nice, big, sweet potato chip, as you can see in the photos.

As soon as we started sipping, a rush of sweet potato flavor hit our taste buds. The drink is sweet and rich, and combined with its thick, creamy consistency and singed sugar-like aroma, it’s not just tasty, but almost emotionally comforting as well. The aftertaste surprised us with a banana sensation, but it wasn’t just our imagination. The smoothie’s base is banana and soy milk, and that makes the optional topping’s chocolate sauce especially worth getting, since at the moments when those flavors mix it’s like drinking a chocolate-covered banana.

In addition to the smoothie, Machi Cafe Plus Lawsons are also serving up a hot Anno Imo Latte these days, for 380 yen. Sweetened coffees are already a balancing in terms of flavor profile, and adding in sweet potato notes ups the degree of difficulty, but Lawson got the balance just right. The sweet potato sauce is rich and sweet, but there’s still plenty of mature coffee flavor here, and the sweet potato chip adds a pleasurable faintly filling aspect.

So sure, it might take a little extra legwork to find a Machi Cafe Plus Lawson, but once you do these two drinks are both great reasons to go for a stroll on one of the crisp autumn afternoons ahead.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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