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Friday, Oct. 5, 2012
Tasty twists on tradition at Tokyo Station
Great fanfare accompanied the reopening of Tokyo Station's redbrick building in Marunouchi this week. And, just like any major new (or in this case 98-year-old) landmark, it's a bonanza for tie-in marketing, including plenty of sweets — all limited-edition items that can only be bought inside the station itself.
Among the standouts are the delicate Tokyo Waffles produced by Waraku Beniya. A delectable take on classic Belgian stroopwafels, each comprises two fine oval-shaped waffles sandwiching a thin layer of sweet cream, with a choice of two flavors: caramel or kinako, the roasted soybean flour often found in wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets).
Waraku Beniya is one of a stable of innovative brands led by celebrity pâtissier Hironobu Tsujiguchi — also the man behind the gorgeous Le Chocolat de H next to the Roppongi Hills complex. It has made a name for itself with its crossover sweets, cleverly straddling the line between Japanese and Western styles.
As if to emphasize the point, the written name for the waffles incorporates a clever pun, the first syllable being written with the kanji character pronounced "wa," meaning "Japanese-style." Look for them in the Ecute South Court corridor, across from the entrance to the shinkansen tracks.
Also on the first floor of Tokyo Station, the Gransta Dining corridor offers plenty of other commemorative goodies. Awaya So-bey, a traditional Japanese confectioner based in Tokyo's Nerima Ward, is offering a special version of its monaka sweets.
As always, the filling is koshi-an, the smooth red-bean jam that is the stock in trade of wagashi sweets. But this time the crisp wafers encasing it are made in the distinctive elongated shape of the newly refurbished redbrick station building.
Perhaps the cutest items are the offerings from Mamegui. This shop, in the Gransta basement arcade (also inside the station), has carved out a popular niche by packaging candies, nuts and traditional sugared beans in small, colorful handkerchief-sized cloths.
Now it has produced two new designs based around the iconic station architecture. Once you've picked out your candies — how about some Halloween-themed sweets? — you can get them wrapped in the cloth. Buy two, and they pack them in a cardboard box the shape of a Yamanote Line train car.
Waraku Beniya: Ecute Tokyo South Court, JR Tokyo Station 1F; (03) 5224-3886; www.waraku-beniya.jp, www.ecute.jp/tokyo. Awaya So-bey: Gransta Dining, JR Tokyo Station 1F; (03) 3287-4929; www.so-bey.com, www.gransta.jp/dining. Mamegui: Gransta, JR Tokyo Station B1F; (03) 3287-4884; www.mamegui.jp, www.gransta.jp/store/index.php?pid=314.