These days Japan is awash with all manner of matcha flavoured confectionary on sale in stores nationwide. However, it may surprise the recent influx of visitors to the country that such green tea sweets are actually quite a recent phenomena in Japan (about 15 years or so) when compared with how long they’ve been drinking the stuff!
I’d come across an ice-cream shop called Nanaya whilst searching for interesting things to do the night before and so after we arrived back at Shizuoka station (following our trip to Toro Ruins) we took the 10-15 minute walk to the store (2-3-1 Ryogaecho, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka) which boasts the world’s most intense matcha taste gelato.
The funny thing is that I don’t really even like matcha ice cream that much. In fact it would probably be my 30th or 31st choice of the 31 flavours served up at what the Japanese call 31 which is known as Baskin Robbins everywhere else! However, this was something of a challenge and it was a now or never moment so I plumped for the strongest possible taste.
Overall there are seven levels of ice cream with the matcha content increasing as the numbers get bigger. The colour also gets deeper and naturally the flavour becomes stronger too. Oh and the price is an extra 200+ yen for the privilege of experiencing the strongest tasting one!
Given the prefecture’s reputation for green tea it was quite apt (not a coincidence no doubt!) that it was served in a kind of tea cup. The taste was extremely bitter but actually better than I’d expected and I polished it off fairly quickly. A rare opportunity to taste some strongly bitter confectionary…..or so I thought! As it turned out, I discovered on my return to Tokyo that Nanaya have recently opened a store in Shibuya!!
Oden is what Shizuoka is most famous for and, like the yakitori lane in Tokyo or ramen alley in Sapporo, there is an oden street here which we went to find. Having passed a big dinosaur in one door entrance on the way to the tiny street we finally decided on a place called Youkoso which already had a few customers in. It should be noted that such bars can only really cater for seven or eight customers at a time!
It’s a little difficult to clearly define oden but it’s basically where a range of foods (fish balls, fish cakes, deep fried tofu, boiled eggs, konnyaku and some vegetables) are simmered in a soy sauce based broth. It’s commonly seen on the counter of convenience stores and to tell the truth I really couldn’t tell the difference between that and what we ate at this place.
One difference was the availability of something called kuro hanpen (black fish cake) which is the regional speciality. It was fine but certainly didn’t live up to the hype in my worthless opinion! The other big difference was, as you might expect, the price!!
As a non-smoker, I really hate going to such establishments in Japan as the air in them is often smoky with that horrible tobacco smell an unwanted extra, particularly when eating food. On this occasion no-one else was smoking in the bar which was a nice bonus given that it was full. That was until the owner decided to light up! I was a bit shocked given that it was tobacco-free at that point. On reflection, I can’t say I was too surprised though and was just glad that we were about to leave anyway.
Ultimately we were a little disappointed with our oden experience so, with room for a bit more food, we went to another fairly busy place en-route to our hotel. Tuna ramen (below) is not something I’d ever seen before so I had to plump for that as I can never resist such a quirky dish and it was pretty nice too but far from being my favourite ramen. As for my wife, she had the seafood donburi (rice bowl of finely chopped tuna and seafood).
The following day I had ramen yet again (above) when we went to Miho No Matsubara to see some beautiful views of Mount Fuji.
The final delicacy to mention from this trip is something that I remember having a few years back when someone must’ve brought me back a bottle of it. I am talking about Shizuoka cola (below) which as you can see is green in colour rather than the usual browny colour. Coca Cola did actually do a green tea flavoured coke back in 2009 but the extract wasn’t really noticeable! As for this one, I can’t recall it having any kind of green tea taste either as it was quite sweet so I can only guess that it’s colour is just to represent the many, many green tea fields of the area.
Click here to read ‘Sightseeing In Shizuoka City’
Click here to read ‘Green Tea Flavoured Coca Cola’