As you may have noticed, the sakura theme is very strong during spring in Japan. Stores are specially dyed pink in the theme of sakura. If you are in Japan during this festive season, get your hands on some of these fabulous sakura-flavoured food!
1. Sakura Latte [Starbucks Japan]
If you are a big fan of Starbucks and sakura, their sakura set will definitely come to mind. Starbucks Japan comes up with new products that incorporate the signature flower of the season, such as Caramelly Sakura Chocolate series or Sakura Chiffon Cake.
2. Sakura Teritama Burger [McDonald’s Japan]
Launched in 2012, McDonald Japan’s sakura-themed burger has become an Internet sensation! The bun is dyed pink, with sakura daikon mayonnaise. Teriyama is a combination of the words “teriyaki” and “tamago”, so the main ingredients are ginger teriyaki pork patty and a fried egg! Get ready for sakura watching with your pink burger and other McDonald’s specials such as Sakura Fizz Float!
3. Sakura Chick [Hiyoko]
Keep an eye out for the Sakura Chick from Hiyoko if you are in Fukuoka. A Fukuoka brand manju, the original flavour is made from ingenmame (green beans) and egg yolk, which sweet and dense. Sakura hiyoko on the other hand, is made from azuki beans and salted sakura leaves, hence it is more savoury. While you may feel a bit of a heartache from eating such a sweet little chick-shaped manju, you will not regret it!
4. Sakura Popcorn [Garrett Popcorn, FritoLay Japan]
In tune with sakura season, many Japanese snack brands are going full force with new products that somehow incorporate “sakura”. Popular American chain Garrett Popcorn added sakura flavour to their usual caramel popcorn, while Mike Popcorn by FritoLay Japan came up with an interesting sakura-prawn flavour.
5. Sakura Anmitsu Parfait [7-Eleven]
Did you know that agar agar was first discovered in Japan, where it is known as kanten? Hence it is no surprise that there are various traditional Japanese desserts made from agar agar, such as Anmitsudama (fruit jelly) and Mizu-yokan (red bean jelly). In fact, even convenience stores such as 7-Eleven in Japan sell sakura-themed items, like the Sakura Anmitsu Parfait. Pretty and refreshing, this dessert will be a great addition to any party!
6. Sakura Mont Blanc
Cake lovers take note! Be sure to try Sakura Mont Blanc while enjoying spring in Japan. The unique taste of sakura-flavoured fresh cream, meringue and mont blanc cream couples with the sweetness of the red bean filling to create a delightful treat. It is available at various cafes and cake shops such as Patisserie morin, but for a limited time only! With their delightful design and attractive colour, it is no wonder that spring brings about some of the prettiest products.
7. Sakura Cream Puff [Kyoami]
Our recommended favourite cream puff near Kiyomizu-dera is the seasonal Sakura Cream Puff from Kiyomizu Kyoami. The mild taste of sakura encapsulates the joy of spring without being overwhelming. This differs from typical cream puffs as they use yatsuhashi dough, a traditional Kyoto wagashi that is one everyone’s souvenir list. If sakura is not your cup of tea, they serve matcha and custard flavours all year round.
8. Sankt Gallen Sakura
Available in specialty stores and department stores across Japan, Sankt Gallen’s seasonal spring product is none other than sakura beer! The star ingredient is sakura petals of the Koen no Sakura variety, which is cultivated in Ina City. The brewery mentioned sakuramochi as the inspiration behind this creation, which is a type of traditional Japanese sweet (wagashi) – see below.
The classic wagashi, Sakuramochi, has two different recipes – Kanto style vs. Kansai style. Can you guess which is which?
- Kanto-nites prefer their mochi to be crepe-like, where a piece of flat dough made from shiratama powder is filled with sieve-strained red bean paste (koshian). The final touch lies in wrapping the mochi with a salt-preserved sakura leaf, which is meant to prevent the dough from drying out (and gives the flavour).
- Meanwhile, the latter is quite the opposite as it favours grainy textures. Kansai-style sakuramochi uses domyoji powder for the dough, while red beans are mashed instead (tsubuan). The dough is rolled into a ball before wrapping it with the same type of sakura leaf.
Sakurayu is often served on special occasions such as omiai (meeting with a prospective marriage partner) and weddings. The easiest way to enjoy sakurayu is to buy pickled sakura leaves (sakura no shiozuke), which are preserved with salt and vinegar. The flavour is unexpectedly strong and sour, yet pleasant and soothing. Visually appetizing as well, the sakura “blooms” in the water, creating beautiful underwater floral portraits.