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25
July
2005

Hakuunno-Hotori

Hakuunno-Hotori

I have watched many episodes of Yakitate!!, a cartoon about a Japanese baker who makes such delicious desserts his customers often float through clouds and hallucinate. I always laughed at what I considered to be an overly dramatic reaction to baked goods, until I tried a Japanese pastry called Hakuunno-Hotori that made me feel like I had left Earth and entered a dream. Hakuunno-Hotori, a mixture of condensed milk and sweet white bean paste wrapped in Japanese crepe, has an unbelievable flavor, texture and form. No one was around while I was eating this true work of art, but I still found myself talking out loud about how amazing it was.

I immediately rushed back to Minamoto Kitchoan, the purveyors of this fine wagashi (Japanese confection), only to be told that it was a seasonal summer item and is no longer available. I begged and pleaded for more, but to no avail. The Japanese know what works for each season, and when its time has passed you have to wait until next year to get more. I dried my tears and walked home, and enjoyed a piece of their red bean jelly that I still had left in my refrigerator.

Boxed Hakuunno-HotoriMinamoto Kitchoan is one of my favorite stores in the city. Their attention to detail and packaging is unrivaled, and any of their creations make an impressive gift. I have never been to Japan so I don’t have much to compare it to, but if Minamoto Kitchoan is a true example of Japanese confections I believe its popularity will grow in America, especially as we become more concerned with our health. Wagashi’s main ingredients are beans (Azuki beans, kidney beans, soy beans), grains (mochi-rice, rice flour, wheat), potatoes, sesame seeds, Kanten (a natural hardener) and sugar, which are all natural, rich in vegetable protein and low in animal fat. Don’t be scared by kidney beans and soy beans as ingredients to a dessert. Wagashi is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and every piece I have tried tastes perfectly sweet and unlike anything you could imagine is possible from a kidney bean. They are inspiring creations, and I think the West has a lot to learn from this interesting use of ingredients and attention to detail.

Minamoto Kitchoan
www.kitchoan.com
608 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10020
(212) 489-3747

Other locations in London, Paris, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Southern California and Honolulu.



19 COMMENTS SO FAR...

mcf says on July 25th, 2005 at 1:51 pm:

I, too, am obsessed– when I’m in NYC, I go literally every other day, buying (and managing to consume) an insane number of delicious sweets. Now that I’m moving to Manhattan, I fear I may die of a (glorious) overdose.

I think we need to help keep the place on the DL, though– if you start posting these raves, everyone will go! Then what will we do?

fanny says on July 25th, 2005 at 5:45 pm:

Yum, it looks so good. I hope ill be able to find them in france.
I reckon that they taste like Heaven, do they?
xoxo
Fanny

Candy says on July 25th, 2005 at 9:22 pm:

Kelli, this is my absolute favorite thing at Kitchoan. I went through a serious addiction last year. I guess I was lucky that it was available whenever I wanted it. I find it very disconcerting that I can’t just run back there when needed.

Karen says on July 26th, 2005 at 8:42 am:

Before they imported this wagashi to the NY store, they had a similar one (also made with white beans and condensed milk) that was labelled as a “Milk Manju”. Last time that I had seen it, they renamed it to something that I cannot remember off the top of my head. It used to be available pretty much year-round but no longer. If you see this one in the store, you should try it.

Are you and Andrew still watching “Yakitate”? (I had lent him the episodes.) While I have had pretty good desserts, none have come close to giving me a reaction like those seen on that show.

Kelli says on July 26th, 2005 at 9:29 am:

I have this debate with myself every time I post — share the good finds, or keep it to myself so I don’t have to wait in lines. Ultimately, I figure everyone needs a little Hakuunno-hotori in their life so I share the news :)

Thanks for the tip about Milk Manju Karen, I’ll definitely have to try.

And yes, Fanny, I think they taste like heaven!

Robyn says on July 26th, 2005 at 4:16 pm:

That looks heavenly! There’s also a Minamoto Kitchoan in NJ (part of Mitsuwa) but eh…Jersey. I’ve tried a bunch of things from there but never Hakuunno-Hotori! I’ll keep that in mind, or maybe get something random the next time I go. I like all their treats but I have yet to find a favorite.

Yakikate is AWESOME!!! I’ve only watched a few episodes (boy, they’re intense), I’ll have to watch some more.

keiko says on July 28th, 2005 at 6:45 am:

Kelli, I didn’t know it had condensed milk in it! I’m glad you like Japanese sweets, I don’t know many people here who like them…

Jessica says on July 28th, 2005 at 8:32 pm:

Wow, that looks great. When do they have it available? I remember seeing this store on a Martha Steweart show. When I stopped in, I couldn’t help noticing how expensive everything was! But if it’s good, I’ll try one.

Andrew says on July 29th, 2005 at 9:36 am:

Hello Karen! We’ve only watched till episode 20 of Yakitate (the last one that you gave us). But, we are now up-to-date on Naruto!

afed says on August 3rd, 2005 at 3:34 pm:

Wow I need to go to japanu and eat some of that stuff stat.

Embla says on August 4th, 2005 at 11:10 pm:

Hi, Kelli!

I was reading this post with a little bit of jealousy, thinking how lucky you are to live in New York City! :) But that jealousy only lasted until the end of the post. I didn’t realize the Japanese store I often visit here contains the Honolulu outpost of Minamoto Kitchoan. Thanks for the post, you’ve convinced me to go. I’ll check them out as soon as I can! :)

Candy says on August 6th, 2005 at 12:30 am:

Quick Update: I was at Minamoto at Rockefeller yesterday because of my recent addiction to their green tea slushy (with red beans and condensed milk), and the lovely saleslady said that they are expecting some Hukuunno-Hotori next week.

Kelli says on August 6th, 2005 at 9:12 am:

THAT IS GREAT NEWS!! Thanks for investigating Candy. BTW– I love that slushy too.

Candy says on August 7th, 2005 at 11:19 pm:

Kelli, I went in again today (I’m telling you, it’s an addiction), and of course I asked again about the Hakuunno-Hotori, and now the date’s been moved to late September – October. :(

Jessica "Su Good Eats" says on December 4th, 2005 at 10:22 pm:

Hi Kelli, I finally had this dessert this week at Cafe Zaiya (41 St/Mad.). They were 5/$3.50! I thought they were delicious, but I was expecting something more ethereal. Maybe I didn’t think they were that special because I’ve grown up eating sweetened bean desserts. It’s strange when I see “common” Chinese food being elevated to haute cuisine. For example, soup dumplings, seitan, soy products and mochi (the first wagashi that you made) were my childhood mainstays. But now I see them being analyzed by the NY Times, Gourmet, etc. and don’t understand the fuss.

Jessica says on December 6th, 2005 at 10:48 pm:

Hi Kelli, I finally had this dessert this week at Cafe Zaiya (41 St/Mad.).
They were 5/$3.50! I thought they were delicious, but I was expecting
something more ethereal. Maybe I didn’t think they were that special
because I’ve grown up eating sweetened bean desserts. It’s strange when I
see “common” Chinese food being elevated to haute cuisine. For example,
soup dumplings, seitan, soy products and mochi (the first wagashi that you
made) were my childhood mainstays. But now I see them being analyzed by the
NY Times, Gourmet, etc. and don’t understand the fuss.

Trish says on February 12th, 2006 at 5:03 pm:

Mmmmm, it already makes my mouth water just by looking at it….I wish I could try that for myself. Good thing summer is just around the corner.

Trish says on February 12th, 2006 at 5:14 pm:

By the way, have you tried the Tai Yaki? The fish shaped waffle filled with red bean paste? it’s really delicious, I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s one of my favorite Japanese snacks…give it a try and post what you thought about it.

sl says on April 26th, 2006 at 3:10 pm:

I have recently tried this dessert for the first time and was immediately hooked. I see from this posting above that Minamoto Kitchoen has a Honolulu location, but when I go to their website, Honolulu is not listed. Does anyone know where this store is? Or where I can find Hakuunno Hotori in Hawaii?



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