Digging in those Azuki

Whenever I go to the department store, strolling around the basement store is a must. This basement floor is called [Depa-Chika], Depa is a shorten term for department and Chika means basement. So what do you expect at Depa-Chika ? FOOD. Yes food.

Depa-Chika is different from a supermarket. Don’t expect a regular grocery shopping kind of experience. It’s not easy to open a store on this floor, all the brands are curated from all over Japan, they are usually a mixture of widely famous national brands with a mixture of the brand that represent the local area. If you are traveling and want to get some yummy souvenir, I always recommend going to the local department store. Do some research of which department store is the oldest, or most popular among the locals then you are all set.

When I am strolling down the lane filled with good looking food, getting the regular stuff, hunting for something new or buying something special you get hungry. I try to fill myself up before entering this zone, so not to shop unnecessary things, but somehow you still get hungry. They are some eat-ins for some quick fix, but something more simple and you walk pass the stall making piping hot Ooban-yaki.

Ooban-yaki (or Imagawa-yaki depending of which area of Japan you’re in) are like a Japanese pancakes with sweeten azuki bean stuffing. The batter is poured into the heated copper pan with round dents. When the batter are almost cooked, the azuki paste is placed on top of the batter and will be covered with the other one to seal the azuki paste inside. It will be grilled until both side are nicely golden brown.

When ordering, the sales clerk will ask if you want to eat it right away or for take-outs. If you want to eat it right away, the clerk will put the piping hot Ooban-yaki in a paper envelop so you can hold on to this paper as you bite along. For takeouts they will wrap it up in paper so the heat will evaporate through the paper so not to make the Ooban-yaki soggy from its moist.

Try to eat it while it’s warm. Especially if it’s your first try. The outer shell is a bit crisp but overall soft which blends in well with the soft azuki bean paste inside. Azuki bean are sweet, not too sweet, just enough to balance the other shell. Ooban-yaki are a casual sweet, simple but it’s one of the thing you can taste the sweeten azuki a it’s best.



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