“Kurogi” is a popular Japanese restaurant in Yushima where the tables are hard to come by. As a sister restaurant to Kurogi, “Kuriya Kashi Kurogi” is a café where you can enjoy the Japanese confectionery wagashi served for dessert at the end of the course meal in Kurogi. It’s located on Hongo campus of the University of Tokyo. It’s on the first floor of the building covered with cedar slats. The building was designed by the architect Kengo Kuma, a professor at this university.
Jun Kurogi is an energetic chef whose concept for Kuriya Kashi Kurogi was to create “Wagashi made by Japanese cuisine chefs.” The café is designed so that customers can see closely the artisans at work. The owner’s wish to preserve skills and passion of traditional wagashi confectioners led to the architectural design that casts a spotlight on the artisans.
A special menu you must try here is warabi-mochi. Their warabi-mochi is rare in that it’s prepared using only bracken starch, which is extracted from bracken roots. Bracken starch takes time and energy to make, so a lot of warabi-mochi often uses other kinds of starch too. Kuriya Kashi Kurogi’s warabi-mochi, however, uses only bracken starch. Its glossy dark color, the subtle flavor of bracken spreading in your mouth, smooth and chewy texture are all unique characteristics of their warabi-mochi.
Freshly made warabi-mochi is soaked in ice water and served with soybean powder, brown sugar syrup and green soybean powder with matcha. At first, enjoy the flavor of bracken by tasting the warabi-mochi by itself. The coffee that comes as a set is an original blend of Ebisu-based popular coffee shop “Sarutahiko Coffee”, blended specially to go with wagashi. The collaboration between Kurogi’s wagashi and Sarutahiko Coffee’s coffee is another reason to visit this place.
Other alluring menus include ohagi “Ankoro-mochi”, which is made by shaping grainy sticky rice into an oval ball shape, seasonal jonamagashi, or Japanese confectionery that entices the eyes and kuzuyu is a sweet Japanese beverage that warms up the body, a suitable drink in the cold seasons to come. The artisans make these confections to order so that customers can savor them at their best condition. Enjoy Kurogi’s hospitality and its special wagashi that the country proudly presents to the world.
Oct 2016 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi