Translated by GonzalezLaura
Want To Try Crispy Jumbo Melon Bread? Head To Asakusa's Kagetsudo!
Written by Mako Hayashi
That sweet smell wafting over from the arcade town close to Sensoji? Yeah, that's coming from the Jumbo Melon Bread store, "Kagetsudo", an Asakusa tourist spot.
Crispy on the Outside, Fluffy on the Inside: The Secret Behind Kagetsudo's Popularity
Early in the morning, a wonderfully sweet aroma makes its way round the arcade town close to Sensoji Temple. As it turns out, the source of that aroma is the Jumbo Melon Bread from Kagetsudo. Melon bread is a Japanese original pastry; one of the outstanding characteristics of this sweet is the net-like pattern on the outer layer. Japanese people are very familiar with melon bread, and it's really far from rare. Despite this fact, plenty of customers come day after day looking to get their hands on Kagetsudo's "Jumbo Melon Bread". What could be the secret to their popularity?
Kagetsudo's melon bread's first distinctive feature is, its size. It's a bit larger than your average melon bread.
The clump of dough that started out no larger than a fist at first, after the fermentation process, grew larger than the size of an open hand. It seems that the secret to the large size and fluffy texture is a long fermentation period at low temperatures.
Finally, the most outstanding feature is the crispy outside blended with the soft, fluffy insides. The outer layer is made of a sort of cookie dough, and the bread has a subtle sweetness that you wont grow tired of. Due to its large size, at first you might think that you wont be able to get it all down, but once you bite into it, and it just melts in your mouth,by the time you realize it, you've managed to eat the whole thing. There's no doubt that you'll get hooked once you take that first bite. The shop's current owner, it's third owner, has studied the process of fermentation, and came up with this specialty bread.
The prices are 1 bun for 200 yen, and 3 for 500 yen. Kagetsudo typically puts out 2000 melonpan a day, and are usually sold out by the evening. The only way to assure that you'll be able to get one, is to go and buy it earlier in the day. As a summer seasonal item, they also sell Ice Cream Melon Bread, which is the same jumbo melon bread with ice cream in the middle, going for 400 yen a piece.
Savor Sweets in a Soothing Japanese-Styled Space
You can eat the melon bread on the benches outside of the first floor, but for travelers we recommend taking some time out in the cafe space on the 2nd floor. After going up the stairs, there's going to be a space for you to remove your shoes. Upon entering the cafe, there'll be a Japanese-styled room with tatami mats covering the floor. It's a very calm atmosphere, where you can take some time to relax.
From the fish tank with the goldfish, to the painted sliding doors, this store's attention to fine Japanese details is not to be overlooked. There is also an display featuring Japan-made souvenirs chosen by the staff. The display features items such as chopsticks and coin purses all neatly laid out; origami kits which can be used to make cute ornaments seem to be quite the hot commodity.
In Japan, anmitsu (a jelly-like dessert featuring fruits and sweet red bean paste), and zenzai, are considered sweets. In Kagetsudo, they feature a Japanese sweets menu, where you can get such deserts with green tea included, for around 700 yen. The author tried the most popular Cream Anmitsu (750 yen).
We'll have this one with some brown sugar syrup. Beneath the fruits there is some red bean paste and agar, which is a jelly-like substance produced from algae. The read bean paste, agar, and zenzai's (*1) shiratama are all made in-house. Kagetsudo was established in 1945 in Hachijo-jima, and was originally a Japanese sweets shop. Having had 70 years as a sweets shop to it's name, you can't help but nod in agreement to the time-tested recipe. It's definitely a traditional kind of taste.
*1 Zenzei: a sweet soup made using soy beans; shiratama are a type of dumpling made using rice-flour.
There's also a shaved ice and ramune menu available, which is just perfect for the summer season.
If You Come to Asakusa, Take a Quick Break at Kagetsudo
It's been 15 years since Kagetsudo started up in Asakusa. There are now two locations in Asakusa, as well as one location in Kyoto, and one in Yokohama. In addition, there are plans to have another location open in Asakusa this fall.
There's a reason why Kagetsudo has been loved by its patrons for so long. There are tours conducted in the Asakusa area every day, and it seems like Kagetsudo is one of the spots where guides take their groups to take a break. Thanks to word of mouth from the tour guides, this store gained popularity among tourists. Kagetsudo, a spot where you can take a break in a Japanese-styled space. If you're sightseeing in Asakusa, make sure to stop by this hot spot!
Asakusa Kagetsudo Main Store
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-7-13
Hours: from 9:00, closes when sold out
Closed: Irregular (see website for details)
Access: 10-15 minute walk from Asakusa Station, in Nishi Sando Shopping Street Entrance
Website: Asakusa Kagetsudo