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Japanese Sweets

August 5, 2016

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Happy Summer everyone!

It’s hot as balls over here, but that’s not stopping us from going outside and filming videos. I think we’re so keen on filming outside because it feels like every time we plan on filming, it rains. So when it’s finally not raining we’re using every excuse we can to do something outside. Last week it was for ice cream. This week it’s for more treats. I think we’ll film another one in the park for next week as well. While we still can! Hopefully this time we’ll be able to figure out what to do with the cicadas, because they’re SO LOUD!

On to the video, we are trying Wagashi today. Not all Wagashi, but lots of it. We didn’t talk a lot about it in the video, but they’re supposed to be had with tea, and they’re mostly made from plant materials, like beans and rice and fruit. I wouldn’t necessarily say eating them is healthy, but I will pose that eating this as a treat rather than a candy bar is significantly better for your health, if you had to choose between the two.

On another note, I think the time has finally come, everyone, in which I can say that I like red bean desserts. Not that I disliked them before. I was indifferent to them. Whenever I had them in Patbingsu or ice cream or whatnot, I always felt like, yeah, it’s ok, but it’s not great. In filming this video today, I think I finally got to the point in which I actually enjoy red beans. It has happened! It’s taken years of training, but I can say now I like it! Kind of like when I first started drinking coffee I hated it, but now I enjoy hot dark bitterness in a cup. No milk. No sugar. Red beans: you’re now on my list of things that took me a while to like but I finally ended up enjoying. Harry Potter is on that list as well (I hated the movies before I read the books). Beer is on that list too. Olives will never be on that list because F**K YOU OLIVES YOU’RE GROSS!

For today’s desserts, we went to a Wagashi shop that was actually in the second season of Solitary Gourmet, which is an amazing Japanese show that I love dearly. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a businessman that goes around and eats. That’s it. No antagonist. No love triangles. No subterfuge. Just a man enjoying his meals. It’s like our FAPFAPs. We just go out and enjoy food. Solitary Gourmet is just that. And it’s pretty popular. And it went to this location! We didn’t get to that episode yet, though. Supposedly it’s in Season 2, according to the owners, and we’re still on Season 1. Do you remember our first food video in Japan, the meat cutlets? That, too, was from Solitary Gourmet. Ok I need to go watch some more of that show now.

Also, I know this post should be about what we ate, but OMG we just got invited to join the puppy dog party. Spudgy hasn’t been shown off in the park yet. It’s a bit of a ride to get there, and we’re not sure how well Spudgy will be able to handle it, but now that we got an invite, we’re going to push ourselves to make it. I’m talking about this like it’s an invite to a special nightclub or something. It’s just the park. But doesn’t matter! Spudgy has to go! Everyone will love him. He’s blue! We haven’t seen any dyed dogs in Japan yet. I don’t think many people have, either. Time to make Spudgy a star!

So yeah! That’s it for this week’s video. Give some of these a try when you’re in Japan. They’re all great. Martina doesn’t like the fruit cube but it’s not like it’s terrible. It’s still enjoyable. Great picnic snacks for great picnic weather. Especially those savoury dango. Dang! Oh they’re so good! Did you see what I did there? Dad jokes in full effect.

Anyhow, if you feel like seeing some more, we’ve got extra scenes, right here!

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  1. Hi Simon and Martina,

    I have been watching you guys for a while now and I think you guys are great! My friend and I are planning a trip to Japan and want to visit this place but the site you linked for the shop doesn’t seem to be working :( Is the shop called wagashi shop?

    3 years ago
  2. Man, I would LOVE to try dango one day! Btw, I just want to mention how absolutely GLORIOUS Martina’s hair looks lately, holy shnikees :D!

    3 years ago
  3. Oh my goodness! All those school children with their little hats were so cute!!!! Also that shot of the crow on the table was cool!

    3 years ago
  4. I’m from Canada. My mom use to make a confection that was we called a dirty snowball. First she would mash up a cooked potato(no milk or butter, just a peeled cooked potato), then she would add a touch of vanilla & icing sugar. She would roll them into balls the size of quarters, then dip them in melted chocolate & lastly roll them in shaved coconut. After she would put them in the fridge for a few hours. The recipe is like 100 years old. Past down from generation to generation. Very simple & inexpensive to make & veeeery tasty. We only had them at Christmas time which made them extra special. Aaaaah, good times!

    3 years ago
    • Also I’m glad that there is a nice dog culture in Japan. It seems to bring people together which is beautiful to see people reaching out to people through the shared love of their dogs. I hope Spudgey made it out to the party.How about this party song “The woof,the woof the woof is on fire”! lol

      3 years ago
  5. Im just going to leave this here for Dan to explain the epic-ness of…
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    BANOFFEE PIEEEEEEE

    3 years ago
  6. Hey guys! Here is a video that may help you identify the Wagashi you tried out. Also, in the video there is a man that makes a wagashi called “Saimon”. I’m not even making this up. Have a look:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEoxU9hB_JM

    3 years ago
  7. Those dango look so good! I hope that Spudgy has a good time with the other dogs, let us know how that goes please!

    3 years ago
  8. Hi Simon and Martina,
    The green “chlorophyll” stuff on your Kusa dango are actually an herb called Mugwort which they mix with the mochi. There’s a specialty shop in Shibamata that had been making this forever. Hope this helps.

    3 years ago
  9. FOR SCIENCE!!! You both look great & Martina, the earrings are sooo cute! Simon, I **loooooove** your shoes! Where’d you get them? Have you guise seen the show “Wakakozake”? It’s in both live action drama & anime form about a 26yo office worker who enjoys going out after a workday for food & drinks. I think you guise would love it & I’d personally love to see you guise FAPFAP any of the locations. No love triangles or drama, she just thinks about her day & realllly enjoys her food with her drinks.

    Re: the video — I *adore* Japanese sweets & seriously would have then every day with my tea if I could! I used to make a point to drive to Japantown in San Jose, CA for freshly made manju from Shuei-do Manju Shop — SOOOOO GOOOOD!!! — and prepackaged wagashi from Nijiya & Santo Markets. Now that I live far away, I have mooncakes from our local Asian market instead. Yummy as well, but I do miss the manju & wagashi: it’s just not the same buying the “boxed kind” from the grocery store.

    Here are some answers that I hope you’ll find useful:

    1.) you only eat the leaf/leaves if they look darkish like they’ve been boiled: they’re actually pickled in salt or similarly treated if they’re Sakura tree leaves (which is what the mango manju was wrapped in). If the fresh leaf/leaves are just wrapped around or onto the sweet, then it’s just there to add aroma & symbolize the season or celebrate a special occasion like Boys Day: don’t eat the leaf.

    2.) it looks like the mango one was filled with shiro-an, a white mildly sweetened bean paste & covered with kudzu manju to keep it all together.

    3. Simon ate a Mizu manju which literally translates to “water-cake”, so great description, Simon! It’s also made from kudzu starch & is typically filled with smooth sweet bean paste. Martina ate Yomogi manju which is mochi made with mugwort (which is believed to have medicinal benefits as well as spiritual importance in ancient ceremonies) with sweet red bean paste in the center.

    4.) Simon had a type of Mizu-yokan, although I couldn’t tell what kind of fruit it was on top of the smooth red bean paste. Martina had ohagi (famous in sooo many animes!!!) that Miki’s mom used to make.

    5.) (Hana Yori Dango ^_^) those were Mitarashi dango with a yummy condensed sweet soy sauce glaze & the other one is just wrapped in nori (seasoned seaweed).

    6.) Simon ate the Yomogi dango with red bean paste & Martina had a type of Goma (black sesame seeds) dango.

    Please do a Wonderful Adventure Spudgy version puppy party at the park!!! We all need more Spudgy <3

    3 years ago
  10. In Canada, I’m eating chocolate chip cookies while watching, your videos are mouth watering. When I was in Asia, I tried the croissant taiyaki. It’s made with a flaky croissant crust instead of the batter. I liked it.

    3 years ago
  11. It’s not a Canadian sweet, but when Moon Festival comes around in Vancouver. T&T, the big Chinese supermarket, displays rows and rows of moon cakes and they are always in loveliest packages. They are extremely fattening as well so thank god they only come once a year. My favourite is the one with the pure lotus seeds. It’s not so sweet and it’s a little hard to explain the taste, but really nice to have green tea with.

    3 years ago
  12. In Sweden where my family is from, there is an entire holiday called fettisdag (Fat Tuesday!) and you eat semla which is a giant dessert that is filled with almond paste and cream and it’s magical and gigantic.

    3 years ago
  13. Love the video! the deserts look so different!

    3 years ago
  14. As much as I do love America and being in America and all of that, sometimes I get really sad about our ‘traditional’ foods. We just don’t have that much history to go allllll the way back to something really cool and different. Well, I guess it’s just not different to ME. Kind of like that grass is always greener thing.

    Anyways, if you do go way way back to early days, we do have some interesting stuff that we don’t eat anymore. Like Johnny cakes with jam. Johnny cakes were like the precursor to pancakes, they were made with corn flour or flour from walnuts or other things like that. They were cooked on the hearth and then you’d top them with homemade jam. I went to culinary school and my partner and I were assigned New England for our restaurant theme day (we ran a restaurant that the public can come to), and he and I made traditional Johnny cakes with homemade Concord grape jam. The jam was great, the cakes were kind of tough and chewy but it was a good learning experience.

    If you really want some old fashioned American desserts though, the people to visit are the Pennsylvania Dutch. Amish people. They make home churned vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and other things that will just blow your mind. I had some of their home cooking on a field trip in elementary school like 20 years ago and I STILL remember it. Alton Brown has several Good Eats episodes about desserts the Pennsylvania Dutch perfected, he is definitely into that stuff.

    Thank you as always for sharing, I hope next time you guys go to that park Supdgy has a good time with the other doggies!

    3 years ago
    • Ah I didn’t realize that this posted as a huge wall of text until just now. Sorry guys :(

      3 years ago
  15. Wow! The first commenter, this doesn’t usually happen! Anyway, I loved the video as always :). However, I was wondering if you could give me directions to the shop where you got the food from (if it’s not too much trouble)? It’s just that I am planning to go to Tokyo next year for three weeks and I would love to try some traditional Japanese sweets (especially the ones that you tired in this video because they look so yummy)!

    3 years ago