Friday, June 24, 2016

Quest for Kunpen, Part 4: Naha by Chance

Sakurazaka Theater is a wonderful place, and after a wonderful documentary on Yomitan pottery, I walked through the narrow streets around the theater, far behind the busy Kokusai Doori, to find some Kunpen.
The covered maze of tiny shops and stalls called XXX is a lot of fun, and there are several old sweets shops that sell to the many tourists visiting from all over the world, though many of them are from Japan, China, and Taiwan.
In the covered market, I came across two shops on opposite sides of the tiny stree. At Toma Seika (外間製菓所), I got a large kunpen. It was really big for kunpen, rather flat, and just moist enough. The soft outer shell had a nice mild sweetness, and the filling was sweet and soft. Kunpen usually contain sesame, and some mix in peanuts. Toma Seika kunpen contains only sesame, but it is mild. The sesame aroma and flavor does not stand out. Comforting, simple kunpen, but not too different from others reviewed in this blog.

A little farther down and on the opposite side was Matsuhara-ya Seika (松原屋製菓). The older lady watching the store pointed to two types of kunpen - sesame and peanut. I chose peanut. Here it is:

The outer "gawa" or cookie part was crispy and just the right sweetness. Like its neighbor, though, the filling was comforting but not surprising or stimulating. It was nice, comforting kunpen.
I then left the covered market for Minamijima Seika (南島製菓), which is known for its kunpen... and there is a very good reason why.

If sentient sesame exist, this is the stuff of their tiny nightmares. Imagine "This. Is. Kunpen!" in a "300", Sparta kinda way. Huge like the sumo of sweets, with a filling that is all sesame, 120%. Compared with other sesame-only kunpen, the flavor and fragrance of the sesame filling was completely different. It was not as sweet, not as diluted by sugar or caramelized. It was intoxicatingly rich and aromatic, and the sheer volume of the sesame made the "gawa" or outer cookie-like a mild and sweet balance to the intensity of it. This is kunpen you have to try, preferably with some really nice tea or milk. After just half of one, I had to just sit back and relax. It is that "totally sated" kind of high. Great kunpen.

This is the fourth of four installments: