Enjoy yokan at an established Wagashi (Japanese Sweets) shop with a beautiful garden view
Sitting to the west of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, “Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo” is the tea room of longstanding Wagashi Japanese confectioner, “Toraya.”
Many of the Japanese confectioners around Kyoto can be seen using the traditional wooden architecture of Japanese houses for their stores; however, Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo is almost like an art gallery in how pristine and stylish it is.
They also have a selection of books on wagashi, as well as Kyoto’s culture, architecture and garden, which you can freely pick up and read.
This tea room also features a rooftop terrace from which you can see the beautiful garden and the ancient storage house.
From this wonderfully charming spot, you can also feel the season with the different seasonal plants and flowers plotted around the place, including maples, plum blossoms gifted from Kitanotenmangu Shrine and the symbol of Japan, cherry blossoms.
In addition to their signature Yokan, a bar of gelled sweet bean paste, Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo’s menu also includes other traditional Japanese sweets.
Including the fresh Japanese sweets known as Namagashi, Anmitsu, a traditional Japanese dessert with a base of agar jelly cubes, smooth azuki bean paste and various toppings, and for the summer only, Shaved Ice.
The incredible quality of all their dishes is truly that of a store which has been supported by so many people for so long.
Mizu Yokan gelled with Kudzu Flour
/ ￥450 (Excl. Tax)
The Mizu Yokan gelled with Kudzu Flour is exclusive to Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo’s summer menu.
Using kudzu (arrowroot starch) from Yoshino, Nara Prefecture and azuki bean from Hokkaido, this dessert leaves a lasting impression with its refreshing kudzu and gentle flavors of the azuki.
Both the flavors and the appearance of this dessert are incredibly refreshing, making it the perfect summer dessert.
*Explanation of Kudzu
Kudzu is an ingredient often used in Japanese confections and cooking. It is made from the starch of arrowroot and is refined and manufactured in Yoshino, a famous kudzu producing area, and surrounding regions.
/ ￥420 ~ (Excl. Tax)
At Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo, you can choose a seasonal Namagashi from about six different variations. The available choices change about every two weeks.
The confection pictured above is a sweet azuki bean bun with irises stamped into it, which we enjoyed during our visit in May. Each light green stroke of the iris flowers was hand painted by an artisan.
The bun made with sticky Japanese yam gives this dessert a lovely moistness, while the smooth azuki bean paste holds a rich azuki bean flavor and a refined and mild sweetness.
This is Seasonal Namagashi truly the pinnacle of Japanese Wagashi sweets.
/ ￥800 (Excl. Tax)
With each order of this Iced Matcha, Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo make just enough green tea for one person, then instantly cool it with ice.
Toraya use specialty Uji Matcha “Kyo no Shirabe” for all their matcha green tea. This green tea has refreshing flavors, with a slight bitterness, making it pair perfectly with the sweetness of the Wagashi.
This iced matcha also comes with a side of syrup, so you can try adding it as you drink to enjoy a variety of different flavors.
Powdered Black Soybeans Yokan/White Miso Yokan (Kyoto Exclusive)
/ ￥240/Per Piece (Excl. Tax) / ￥240/Per Piece (Excl. Tax)
These thick, gelled bars of bean paste, agar, and sugar, known as Yokan, are the signature sweets of Toraya.
The Yokan pictured above are feature flavors from Kyoto, allowing your tastebuds to go on a journey around the prefecture.
The White Miso Yokan uses Saikyo white miso paste from the flagship store of Kyoto’s Honda Miso. The Yokan is slightly salty; however, that merely works to further bring out the sweet flavors of the Yokan.
The Powdered Black Soybeans Yokan, which uses Kyoto grown black soybeans, has a wonderfully aromatic flavor and has just the right amount of chewiness to it.
We recommend enjoying the Yokan with a warm bowl of green tea.