Yabai always means shocking, but is it in a good way or a bad one here?

In the Japanese language, there aren’t many words more versatile than “yabai.” Originally, yabai was used to describe a situation that was extraordinarily dangerous or shockingly bad. Eventually, it also started being used to describe the exact opposite, something attractively good to an overwhelming degree, like “Yabai! Those Cardcaptor Sakura high-heeled sneakers are so cute I absolutely have to buy them!

So nowadays, you’ll hear Japanese people say “yabai” about things that are ether bad or good. The intensity stays the same, though, and so whether it’s good or bad, something that’s yabai is always going to be shocking or crazy…which brings us to Tokyo’s yabai sweet potato shop.

▼ Yabai is even written as ヤバイ, in the more angular katakana script that’s usually reserved for foreign loanwords, to show just how yabai this place is.

The shop, called Yabai Yakiimoya-san (“Yabai Roasted Sweet Potato Shop”), is located in Tokyo’s Honjo Azumabashi neighborhood. It’s a short walk from the Honjo Azumabashi subway station, just over the river from Asakusa, and you can see the Skytree once you’re out on the street.

▼ The walk from the station to Yabai Yakiimoya-san

Yabai Yakiimoya-san sells beni haruka sweet potatoes, which are the sweetest variety available in Japan. That’s not what makes this shop yabai though. No, the yabai-ness comes from pairing the beni haruka with a Koganeton sausage. Koganeton, meaning “golden pork,” is the name for a highly prized regional pork from the town of Date, Hokkaido Prefecture, and instead of serving you your sweet potato and sausage separately…

…Yabai Yakiimoya-san slices the spud open and uses it like you would a hot dog bun!

They call it, naturally, the Koganeton Yabaimo Dog, and we wasted no time ordering it for 1,080 yen (US$7.25). That’s a little expensive for a sweet potato, and a little expensive for a hot dog, but considering the gourmet ingredients involved, it feels like a pretty fair deal.

And that price felt even more justified when we took a bite. A hybrid sweet potato/hot dog is something we never would have thought of, and as far as we know no other sweet potato shop or cafe has either. The flavors make for an excellent combination, though, with the salty meaty notes of the sausage playing very nicely with the sweet fluffiness of the beni haruka.

If we had to equate the sensation to something, it’s sort of like what we imagine would happen if you poured maple syrup on a piece of fried chicken. Really, though, the Koganeton Yabaimo Dog is a singular eating experience, flavorful enough to make us kind of giddy but without feeling like some sort of junk food mishmash.

The sweetness of the sweet potato ends up being just a little stronger than the sausage flavor, so when we go back for another, we might add a pinch of salt, which would probably give it a perfect balance, Actually, we might not even have to go back to the shop to buy another, since Yabai Yakiimoya-san has plans to start offering the Koganeton Yabaimo Dog via frozen mail-order in the near future, so that the whole country can get a taste of this yabai innovation.

Shop information
Yabai Yakiimoya-san / ヤバい焼き芋屋さん
Address: Tokyo-to, Sumida-ku, Higashi Komagata 3-23-3
Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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