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What to Eat and Drink in Kawagoe

So you’ve spent the day exploring the old streets of Koedo and visited a string of temples and shrines along the way, it’s time to unwind and treat yourself to a few snacks, possibly even a nice dinner. As with most towns in Japan, Kawagoe takes their cuisine pretty seriously, and if you know where to look you will find a variety of local goods to choose from, making your stay there that little bit more special. Here is a roundup of the top five things to try while in the area.

  • Kawagoe Sweet Potato (imo)

    Kawagoe Sweet Potato (imo)

    Kawagoe Sweet Potato (imo)

    Locals in Kawagoe have been serving up a variety of foods prepared with sweet potato since the city was a bustling merchant center in the Edo period. The most obvious variant is the traditional baked sweet potato, a simple, healthy and quick snack that can be found on street corners around the city, and are especially nice when they’re piping hot on a crisp winters day.

    The scope of cooking with sweet potatoes doesn't end there though! A string of shops along the main shopping strip in Koedo sell a variety of sweet potato dishes and snacks, they include:

    ‘Imo Koi’ – a small pastry-like bun made of mochi, filled with sweet potato and red bean paste – especially good served with green tea.

    ‘Imo Gyoza’ – an unusual twist on the popular izakaya snack ‘gyoza’ - Chinese Dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables. In Kawagoe, they also include sweet potato!

    ‘Imo Udon’ – Wheat and flour based noodles infused with sweet potato, that can be eaten either hot or cold.

  • Mochi

    Mochi

    Mochi

    Mochi is a popular type of rice cake that is served as both a sweet and savory snack across Japan. Mochi has a chewy texture and is often coated or stuffed with a variety of flavorings including sweet bean paste, matcha, fruits, and miso. Kawagoe is one of many parts of Japan known for its delicious mochi snacks, which can be found in any number of shops throughout the city center.

  • Sayama Tea (Sayama Cha)

    Sayama Tea (Sayama Cha)

    Sayama Tea (Sayama Cha)

    Sayama Cha is a type of tea that is grown in the town of Sayama, just up the road from Kawagoe.Characterized by its thick leaves and rich flavor, Sayama Cha is said to have some of the highest levels of antioxidants found in green tea. Considering its close location, there are a huge variety of drinks and snacks made from Sayama Cha on sale in Kawagoe, including cakes, ice creams and of course hot tea to go.

  • Coedo Craft Beer

    Coedo Craft Beer

    Coedo Craft Beer

    The craft beer scene in Japan has been gaining real traction over the past few years, with breweries popping up all over the place. One of the more popular brands is Coedo beer, which is brewed locally in Kawagoe. The name derives from the historic town center of Kawagoe, “Koedo”, which translates as “Little Edo”, an area with a rich history of merchant trading.

    There are five beers in the Coedo Beer collection, including a pilsner, a dark ale, a pale ale and even a sweet potato infused beer! Coedo Beer can be found in a number of bars, restaurants and liquor shops around the city.

  • Yamaya Kaiseki Ryori

    Yamaya Kaiseki Ryori

    Yamaya Kaiseki Ryori

    During the Edo period, when Kawagoe was a highly influential and prosperous merchant town, it was known for its very expensive, upmarket “Kaiseki Ryori” restaurants and cuisine. These restaurants were so exclusive only those from the elite of society were in a position to make reservations and dine there. There are still a few such restaurants that serve only to the super rich, but a few others are now open to the general public as well, Yamaya is one of them.

    Kaiseki Ryori is considered the ultimate Japanese cuisine. Seasonal ingredients are meticulously prepared and beautifully presented over a string of courses. Traditionally guests would eat Kaiseki Ryori on a tatami floor overlooking a Japanese garden. There is no one set menu; each chef has their own take on the cuisine, which is made up largely of seasonal vegetables and fish.

    Located down a quiet side street off the main strip in Koedo, Yamaya is set in a sprawling, traditional Japanese townhouse that feels like it has seen little change since the Edo period. The food is an excellent example of Kaiseki Ryori and the views over the Japanese garden are well worth the visit. Dinner is a little pricey but the lunch sets are reasonably priced. Reservations not essential, but would probably be a good idea.

    Kawagoe
    Address
    Saitama Pref. Kawagoeshi Wakitahonchou
    Phone
    Yamaya
    Address
    11-2, Saiwaicho, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama, 350-0063
    Phone
    0492240048
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