During our trip to Kyoto last December (and after all that worrying about the perfect omiyage) the duck and I found the perfect snack to bring back to Tokyo within our first few hours in the old capital: yatsuhashi! During a previous visit in summer a few years back I already had the pleasure of trying a few variations of the raw version (don’t look at me like that, duck! You got to try plenty near Kiyomizudera in December!) but with the cool temperatures, and Christmas only being a few weeks away, we knew that it had to be the baked cinnamon version this time!
Because it’s been far too long since our last super professional taste test, the duck and I just couldn’t help but put in our own two yen. So, here goes:
2 Yen’s worth
Yen #1: What is yatsuhashi anyway?
Yatsuhashi is traditionally made by combining rice flour with sugar, cinnamon and some water.
The raw version is called nama yatsuhashi and traditionally comes filled with sweet red bean paste. However, there are lots of different flavors and combinations of dough and filling available all over Kyoto, such as mango or chocolate-banana (banana yatsuhashi with a creamy chocolate filling).
As previously mentioned, we got the baked variety, though. Those yatsuhashi ‘cookies’ are strips of the original cinnamon yatsuhashi that get this characteristic curve in the process of being baked.
Yen #2: Critical words from the beak of a connoisseur
Now let’s get to the taste test! Well, as you can guess by looking at the pretty straightforward list of ingredients – this variety had just sesame and soybean flour added to the traditional mix – there weren’t any big surprises in the taste department: The yatsuhashi taste really cinnamony, what we love, especially during the time before Christmas when we first taste-tested them, but there’s also a hint of a somewhat smoky flavor (maybe this comes from the process of baking them?).
As for the texture, they’re a bit crunchier than ‘regular’ cookies, despite being so thin, but far less messy because they don’t really crumble. This is probably due to the rather chewy mochi-like texture of the unbaked yatsuhashi that is so unlike ‘typical’ cookie dough. However, I have to admit that, while we love mochi, when it comes to baked goods we do prefer cookies (chewy or crunchy, we don’t care) in all their crumbliness…
Anyway, we still love those yatsuhashi; they’re especially great enjoyed with a nice cup of hot green tea (as we did at our hostel in Kyoto, after a day of wandering about and freezing off our wings and fingers – this combination filled us with instant happiness)!
Because we (might) have a slight cinnamon addiction and a deep appreciation for the sentimental Kyoto flashback value of yatsuhashi, we think that 4.4/5 Ducks are a reasonable rating.
This has been our yatsuhashi taste test. We hope you enjoyed this, again, very subjective and pretty uninformative review worth a whopping two yen!
Yatsuha-shi you later!