I was almost rendered speechless upon the first taste of the Kuromitsu Kinako Kakigori at this new Wagashi cafe that opened in May 2014. It is the sister café of high end Japanese restaurant Kurogi and strategically located right in Tokyo University aka Todai. Here, one can find modernized wagashi in stylish presentation which they call "artisanal works". Given that Kurogi is said to be one of the best ryoriya in town, one can expect standards of the sweets here to be no less remarkable.
This giant mountain of ice is like no other Kakigori I've ever had before. It's bigger than an average adult head size (not face) and doused generously in kinako-dusted cream. The key point here is "generous" as there's more than enough to go with the delicate shaved ice. The cream, which I'm not too sure whether it should be called "espuma", is slightly denser than the usual espuma served in Kakigori shops but that's not a bad thing. The cream managed to hold its structure steadily till the end.
Most importantly, the chemistry between this light brownish cream, kuromitsu syrup and kinako powder was fantastic. Well, how delicious could this be since kuromitsu-kinako has always been a fail-proof combination? Extraordinarily delicious, I say. And I can only advise you to taste it for yourself. This is my best and favourite Kakigori till date, the next best is probably the Pudding Kakigori from Cheka. Anyway, this has easily beaten the version from Kissho Karyo in Kyoto or even any matcha Kakigori hands down. There's more than just red beans or black beans--before you know it, you have crunched upon some tasty walnuts.
The seasonal kakigori was Sakura-ko, a sakura-themed kakigori with a substantial layer of sakura bean paste layered within and a mixture of sakura jelly and kinako jelly. The red beans here are well-cooked without being too sweet. In fact, this is even lighter than the Kuromitsu Kinako due to the pickled taste of the sakura and the subtle cheesy taste in the cream.
The issue here might be the price. It IS expensive for 1400 yen as most kakigori is way below 1000 yen. But for the excellent quality and huge portion, there is nothing much to complain about. The coffee set is priced at 2200 yen, with a choice of 3 coffee all using beans from from Sarutahiko Coffee. Our cold ice brew (mizu-dashi ko-hi) was smooth and concentrated, without any bitterness or acidity. I don't drink coffee regularly but I loved the brew here.
But I felt the signature kudzu jelly was overpriced at 2500 yen. The warabi mochi version costs the same but I opted for this since kudzu jelly is lighter on the belly. Needless to say, the plate of transluscent kway teow strips went hand-in-hand with the black sugar syrup and kinako powder but did not stand far from those kuzu jelly sold elsewhere.
Just as you may be eagerly jotting this down on your to-eat list, here are some points to note:
- Avoid weekends if possible or just be mentally prepared to queue for 30 min or so even though you see empty tables around. That's just how inflexible and inefficient the place is run here. But you can use the waiting time to tour around the campus since this could be your first and last time stepping into the prestigious Tokyo University. If there's no queue, that's the best thing, of course.
- Go from the side gate "Kasuga" (kasugamon 春日門), else you have to figure your way through the maze-like university campus
- Come hungry. Don't belittle the size of one kakigori. It's really BIGGER than average.
- Come with a friend or more, if you wanna try at least TWO items.
Daiwa Ubiquitous Research Building 1F,|
7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
*located nearby the Kasuga Gate
inside Hongo campus of The University of Tokyo
5 minutes walk from Hongo sanchome Station, Marunouchi Line
3 minutes walk from Hongo sanchome Station, Oedo Line
国立大学法人 東京大学 本郷キャンパス春日門側
丸ノ内線 本郷3丁目駅より 徒歩5分
大江戸線 本郷3丁目駅より 徒歩3分
Phone: +81-3-5802-5577 http://www.wagashi-kurogi.co.jp/