Marufuji Dango : Reinventing the Traditional Dango

Osaka may not ranked as high as other cities in terms of its sweets but there can be some interesting findings if you look hard enough. As I scoured through the Tennoji area where my hotel is located, I spotted one modern Japanese style or Wa Sweets Café which aimed to colour traditional Japanese sweets in the style of Western pastries.

I was drawn by the colourful dangos immediately and decided to explore this café since it has quite a high Tabelog review yet not reflected in any traveling guidebooks. Available in 8 different flavours, the rice balls are grilled and coated in 8 assorted flavours; Mitarashi An, Oshiruko An, Ichigo Strawberry An, Tsuke-Yaki Shoyu, Shiro An, Aosa-shiro-mitsu an, Kuromitsu an and Matcha An.
I am not a fan of shiratama dangos, the usual white balls served in parfait, as I find them redundant and tasteless. However, I enjoyed Marufuji dangos because they are grilled to a point where the exterior is slightly browned and soft; yet the innards still retain a delightful chewy texture. The fact that the rice balls are made with 100% Niigata rice flour and pure water without any additives or salt gave it a very simple yet tasty flavour that is not found in most commercially produced dangos.

You can order it in per stick at 130 yen or 3 sticks per plate for 380 yen. Not all flavours will suit everyone’s palate so it might be good to stick to your usual favourite. I love the Kuromitsu Kinako, Mitarashi An and the seasonal edition Chocolate An. The Matcha An is also excellent for its astringent taste while the Yaki-Shoyu might help to balance off the sweetness (for those who can’t tolerate sugar) as it is intensely savoury.
Warabi Mochi 680 Yen ( Served with Kuromitsu, Matcha Mitsu, Shiro-mitsu and Kinako Powder)

I also highly recommend these transparent little warabi-mochi that looks like pebbles floating on water. The only problem is perhaps trying to manage the wobbliness as you try to transport the piece from the plate to your mouth. How to eat them? Simply dip them into one of the three sauces and dump them into the kinako powder.
Steer clear away from the Shiru-ko (550 yen), or what we call the Japanese red bean “orh nee” if you are not used to the usual sweetness of anko(red bean paste). My family stopped after taking two spoons but I happily continued to dig in as it has a balanced consistency—not too gluey nor watery. Moreover, there is the grilled dangos and salty kombu pickles that would cure any jadedness.

Both the matcha and kuromitsu kinako parfait is considered huge in size for the price of 850 yen each.  What makes this special is the unique toasted white rice crispies, the soy milk whipped cream and abundance of kanten jelly—which can be a good thing since it means healthier and lower calories.

However, the Japanese style matcha pancakes (930 yen) are weak on the green tea flavour even though it is made from rice powder and soy milk without any baking powder that contained aluminium.

One can add on 200 yen or 300 yen for drinks which we did. We had 8 sets of sweets but we only had to order 2 types of drinks to share as the kitchen is very generous to provide free flow of hot water for each pot. Both the Uji-cha (usual price 400 yen) and MARUFUJI Premium Sencha (usual price 400 yen) are very aromatic and good enough to pair with the sweets so just get these and forget about the smoothies or coffee.
This place also has a savoury café menu that includes Hojicha Porridge and Green Tea Soba, etc. Located less than 5 minutes walk away from the Tennoji Station, this is an ideal spot to enjoy some simple Japanese café food without beating the crowds.
Japanese Sweets and Café MARUFUJI
Tennoji Kita Outlet : 8-11 Hideninchō, Tennōji-ku,
Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 543-0055, Japan
11am-9pm (LO 8.30pm