I’m not sure where these cravings are coming from… Ask around, and my friends will tell you I’m more of a savory/salty/fried kind of lady (it’s no coincidence that I live in an apartment equidistant from Pike Street Fish Fry and Ezell’s Famous Chicken). Lately, however, I have been jonesing for some tasty sweet treats. And what’s catching my eye – not to mention my tastebuds – are Japanese pastries and sweets.
For the former, I’m enamored of Fuji Bakery, which recently opened a second location in the International District on King St (the first location is in Bellevue, WA). When I arrived on a recent Saturday after 3:30pm, I expected them to be completely wiped of anything worth tasting, but instead I was greeted with a pastry case whose contents had dwindled but not disappeared. I chose a rum raisin cinnamon bun, a cream cheese danish, and a mocha-filled croissant; I was not kidding about my craving, folks. All were perfectly delicious, and refined in that oh-so-French way (Taka Hirai, the head chef, studied at l’Ecoles de Patisserie et de Cuisine in Tokyo), but the flavors were uncommon and, thankfully, not overly saccharine. I like my sweets subtle, thank you very much!
For an even more understated sweet, I knew I needed to check out Tokara Japanese Confectionery on Phinney Ridge. Actually, I had sampled Chef Tokara‘s beautiful creations at Tougo Coffee in south Capitol Hill, but their delicate flavor and unique textures are better complemented by green tea (sacrilege in Seattle, I know, but it must be said). Luckily, during Tokara’s second-Sunday open house, called “Tohryanse,” she had invited a representative from My Green Tea to demonstrate how to prepare matcha and to offer tea bags, tea powder and accessories for sale. Sipping a taste of genmai-matcha (nutty with brown rice) while peering into Chef Tokara’s kitchen was the epitome of the “treat” I sought. I walked away smiling with a lovingly arranged gift box of three seasonal autumn wagashi plus a chestnut-flavored cookie, as well as a package of the genmai-matcha tea bags. Although I know it may be counter to Tokara’s aesthetic, I tore through the selection of wagashi and only have this to show you:
And then that was gone in minutes.
If you are visiting Seattle but miss Tokara’s second-Sunday Tohryanse, I would highly, highly recommend that you check out the Seattle Art Museum‘s Tea Ceremony Presentation offered in partnership with the Urasenke Foundation on the third Sunday and on the third Thursday of every month. For just the cost of the museum’s suggested admission, you can see the traditional tea ceremony take place in a tea house – Ryokusuian – constructed for SAM back in 1992. The ladies (and occasional gentleman) who demonstrate Chado, “the way of tea,” may even serve you your own bowl of matcha and a little wagashi. Such a relaxing, meditative way to spend an afternoon, and satisfy a craving for Japanese sweets.
Want Localist to help you satiate your sweet tooth with a dessert tour of Seattle? No problem! More information about Localist itineraries is available here.