One of Tokyo’s most famous sweets stores may have closed, but this new dessert honours its legacy.

Japanese convenience store chain 7-Eleven adds new items to its shelves so often we’ve dubbed our visits there “Seven Patrol“. During one recent patrol of the shelves to discover new products, we came across a sweet in the refrigerated section called Uji Matcha Bavarois that instantly caught our attention.

At first glance, it may look like just another Japanese sweet, but it actually resembles a famous sweet from a long-established sweets shop that sadly closed its doors in 2022. That sweets store was Kinozen, located at the foot of the famous slope in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka, which was so popular it frequently appeared in magazines and TV specials.

▼ Kinozen, as it looked back in 2021.

It had been in business so long that when a lot of locals think of Kagurazaka, Kinozen still comes to mind. Founded in 1860 as a sushi store, before switching to become a Japanese cafe in 1948 during the post-war period, Kinozen served up beautiful matcha sweets in a relaxing environment, but sadly, due to various circumstances, including the ageing of the store owner, the cafe closed on 30 September 2022.

The official website still exists, but all it contains is the below notice of the store’s closure, with a message of sincere thanks to all its customers over the years, many of whom came from afar to visit.

Image: Kinozen

The closure left lots of people with a Kinozen-shaped hole in their hearts, so when our reporter Mariko Ohanabatake spotted this matcha sweet on the shelf at 7-Eleven, she immediately bought it as it looked identical to Kinozen’s signature sweet, which was…Matcha Bavarois.

Kinozen’s bavarois was mildly sweet, with a strong matcha aroma, fresh cream, and an elegantly sweet red bean paste. It was a sweet for adults, and many people lamented that they could no longer eat the delicacy once the store had closed. There are many stores that serve a similar matcha bavarois, but Kinozen was special as it was said to be the originator of the red bean paste, fresh cream and matcha bavarois combination.

Lifting the lid off the 7-Eleven sweet, Mariko could see that this was a wonderfully dark green matcha bavarois topped with fresh cream and a mound of crushed red bean paste. Although the amount of fresh cream here was a little less than what you’d get at Kinozen, the combination of ingredients was exactly the same.

▼ Scooping it up with a spoon, the colour of the matcha was a beautiful deep green.

Placing the heaped spoonful in her mouth, the taste of matcha bavarois was undoubtedly elegant. She could sense the bitterness and aroma of matcha, as the red bean paste and fresh cream had an elegant sweetness that didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the green tea bavarois, creating a superb balance.

A lot of convenience store sweets these days are very sweet, so this modest sweetness seemed like something of a heresy in the convenience store world.

After tasting it, Mariko had no doubt in her mind that this sweet must have been made out of respect for Kinozen’s Matcha Bavarois.

While purists might argue that the subtle difference in ingredients such as the red beans and matcha, in terms of the companies from where they’re sourced, means this isn’t exactly the same as Kinozen’s Matcha Bavarois, the bittersweet notes were so on par that they perfectly matched Kinozen’s nostalgic flavour for Mariko.

If you loved Kinozen, or are only just learning of it now, Mariko highly recommends trying 7-Eleven’s Uji Matcha Bavarois to get a sense of what made the old sweets store so popular. At 302 yen (US$2.10) a tub, it’s a small price to pay for such a luxurious indulgence, and we have a hunch it’ll taste even better if you purchase it from the oldest 7-Eleven in Japan.

Related: 7-Eleven
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