Wagashi - San Francisco ?
Does anyone have a good recommendation for sampling Wagashi. I feel upon this on a recent trip to NYC. Figure we have got to have a source if not 2 or 3 here. Also any recommendations on what to try would be welcome.
There really aren't very good wagashi place in San Francisco. NYC has the best by far in U.S. -- Minamoto Kichoan -- and you can do mail order. Shuei-do and Benkyo-do in SF and SJ are ok. The tea place in Kinokuniya building downstair has good manju, etc. from Los Angeles area. My favorite around here is Osaka-ya in Sacramento. I just saw that they now do FedEx - http://stores.homestead.com/Osakaya/S.... Most of the wagashi, etc. are traditional, but if you haven't tried it Peanut Butter Mochi is their original and to die for!
I think it is called "Under the bridge"
Japantown mall, SF
(next to Suzu noodles on bottom floor)
Little cafe that serves fresh wagashi and bento. Seasonal, fresh wagashi (no artificial colorings & preservatives). Friendly service. Their wagashi is also served at restaurants like Kirala in Berkeley.
Unfortunately there are no beautiful manju/wagashi shops/restaurants here as there are in NYC. In fact wagashi is getting increasingly difficult to find in the Bay Area. The two places I know of are Shuei-do in San Jose's Japantown, and Benkyo-do in San Francisco's Japantown. You can also find various wagashi at some of the local Japanese markets (Niji-ya, Maruwa) but they are usually shipped in from Los Angeles and are of varying quality.
217 Jackson St.
corner of Sutter & Buchanan
Web site: http://www.benkyodocompany.com/
Just returned from spending New Years with family. Among the traditional New Years foods (ozoni, sashimi, sake, etc.), someone brought strawberry manju. Wow. So, I already checked with Benkyodo, they will make it when strawberries are in season. Can't wait.
I tried three varieties of their manju: two filled with adzuki beans, one with lima beans. All great and fresh.
Someplace in SF Japantown is your best bet. There's a little mall.
Stuff tends to be ultra-sweet (as you probably know) and is most frequently made from beans, rice flour, chestnut flour, sugar, and/or gelatin. The shape/decoration is always seasonal, for example, maple leaves in the fall, cherry blossoms in the spring.
They are good. I could eat a whole box, knowing I'll regret it after but not caring.