Why Asagaya’s 380 yen Taiyakis Sells Like Hotcakes | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Asagaya’s 380 yen Taiyakis Sells Like Hotcakes

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Taiyaki of Natural Products

The three most famous taiyakis are Naniwaya Sohonten (Azabu Juban), Wakaba (Yotsuya), and Yanagiya (Ningyocho). In recent years, however, Taiyaki Tomoe, which has a store on Asagaya’s Pearl Shopping Street, has been attracting attention.

The shop offers a variety of different types of taiyakis, such as umeboshi shiratama taiyaki, a taiyaki with a white bean ball mixed with umeboshi (pickled plum), and aojitsu sansho taiyaki, a taiyaki with a green pepper filling and salted pickled sansho (Japanese pepper). The Taiyaki no Aoki also known as, open Taiyaki, is made by opening and pressing a Taiyaki. The company also became a topic of conversation in the 2021 NTV drama “My Daughter Can’t Get a Boyfriend,” for which it provided guidance and supervision for the Taiyaki.

Of course, the taste is also a gem. The regular taiyakis are priced at 200 yen each, and the monthly specials are priced at 380 yen, but are often sold out. What is the hidden potential of taiyakis, which are often thought of as a convenient snack for the common man?

“I think the beauty of ‘Itcho yaki’ is that it is filled with red bean paste and wrapped in a thin, crispy crust,” says store manager Abe (photo by Kenji Kawato).
No matter where you eat it from, you will reach the red bean paste in the first bite of Ichigo yaki.

The Ichigo yaki offers the full flavor of Anko (red bean paste).

Everyone knows about taiyaki, but not many people know how delicious is the Ichigo yaki. The previous generation insisted on this because they thought many people would be pleased with the taste.

Says Sho Abe, manager of Tomoe-an.


“Ichigo yaki is a type of taiyaki that is made by baking each fish in its own mold. This style of taiyaki used to be the mainstream, but later mass-production-type baking tables were developed to bake more taiyaki at one time, and it became popular throughout Japan.

 Some fans refer to the Ichigo yaki as “natural” and the mass-produced type as “farm-raised”. There is no saying which is tastier or less tasty; it is just a difference in the way it is grilled and the customers’ preferences. There are minor differences depending on the store, but I think the beauty of Ichigo-yaki is that a lot of sweet bean paste is wrapped in a crispy thin crust,” said Abe.

It takes a lot of skill to bake with a filling made with red bean paste from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail with only a limited number of baked goods that can be baked at a time.

The sugar content of anko (red bean paste) is another reason why people want to try it again.

 The bean paste used in our store has low sugar content. When the representative surveyed the sweetness of the “Gosanke” and other famous Japanese confectionery stores before opening the shop, he realized that the secret of its deliciousness lies in its low sugar content. The low sugar content brings the flavor of the azuki beans to the forefront.

The sweet red bean paste with a moderate sweetness has many fans, and for several years now, they have been selling 500 g of tsubuan (sweet bean paste) for 900 yen per pack exclusively during the year-end and New Year’s holidays.

Careful baking of each bean curd requires skilled techniques.
After working as a seafood wholesaler, he joined the store four years ago and became manager this year. He says, “I have changed from real fish to confectionery fish, but I am even more particular about freshness than I was before.”

 The monthly changing fish-shaped pancakes,” are an original menu item that cannot be found anywhere else.

Tomoe-an is unusual enough that it is in an Itchoyaki restaurant, but what makes it even rarer is its Tsukihae Taiyaki, a special type of fish-shaped pancake that changes every month. The original menu item, which cannot be found anywhere else, has a significant presence.

 The first item on the menu was the Kizami Taiyaki which was made by a local chef who had been working on it since the beginning of the 20th century. The first item we created was the Kizami Ginger Taiyaki which is made by mixing chopped candied ginger with red bean paste. The refreshing spiciness of the ginger and the anko (red bean paste) is a perfect match.

 “When it was first completed, it was intended to be a regular item on the menu, but later, ideas for other varieties came up, so it became a monthly item,” he said.

Although the monthly changing item has become synonymous with the store, Abe says that the hurdle for coming up with new menu items has been getting higher every year.

 “In the beginning, the idea was to use the same ingredients in other sweets, but now we are conscious of ingredients that have strong characteristics other than sweetness. It was quite difficult to come up with a new menu item within the constraints of mixing with anko (red bean paste), using Japanese ingredients that are not being offered at other stores. It is getting harder and harder to come up with a new menu item because it has to surpass the taste of our existing monthly taiyaki.

A good example of how ingredients with characteristics other than sweetness are successfully paired with red bean paste is the Aojitsu Sansho Taiyaki.

 It was born out of the representative’s desire to create a product using tsukudani, the fruit of the sansho pepper, which is a favorite of his. However, the pepper, when simmered in shoyu, did not go well with the bean paste, so he decided to pickle it in salt to make the product.

The monthly special for May is the Zunda Shiratama Taiyaki. It is made from green soybeans and has a refreshing taste.
Shiratama Taiyaki priced at 350 yen is a regular menu item. The handmade white bean curd sticks are a very satisfying treat.

 Dispelling the image of cheap and commonplace

When creating a new menu item, it is essential to think outside the box. The search for ingredients that play well with the sweetness of the bean paste is an extraordinary effort.

 The monthly changing fish-shaped pancake is 380 yen per pancake. The price does not change from month to month. In addition to the cost of the ingredients, the preparation and grilling process is time-consuming, but the price is based on our desire to change the image of taiyaki as cheap and natural.

 380 yen may seem quite expensive for a taiyaki, but some people may feel it is cheap for a cake, don’t you think? This is of course due to the efforts of people in the confectionery industry, but we are also proud of the fact that we put as much effort and time into making our products as we do for western-style confectioneries.


 In addition, since we have no choice but to produce monthly-changing taiyaki in small batches, the cost ratio is quite high for some items. For example, the Sakura Shiratama Taiyaki and Yomogi Shiratama Taiyaki, which are based on the Shiratama Taiyaki (350 yen) have a considerable amount of cherry leaves and yomogi mixed into both the shiratama and the mashed bean paste, but the price difference is only 30 yen. Between you and me, we are just barely breaking even at the cost.

Although the price is high for a taiyaki, it is a price realized through corporate effort and pride.

The store also offers a variety of fun goods that you cannot find at other stores, such as taiyaki masks and taiyaki openers, which are pressed taiyakis that have been opened.
Asagaya’s “Tomoe-an” continues to expand the possibilities of taiyaki.

Click here for the website of Taiyaki Tomoean.

  • Interview and text Motoko Abekawa

    Motoko Abegawa is a freelance writer mainly for the web. She is also involved in the production of books and corporate PR magazines. She does not specialize in any particular field, but covers a wide range of topics that intrigue her, including history, comedy, health, beauty, travel, gourmet food, and nursing care.

  • Photography Kenji Kawato

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