Akimune-an Taiyaki

If you’ve never had taiyaki before, you probably don’t know what you’re missing out on. It’s somewhere along the lines of dorayaki, manjyu, or mochi with red (adzuki) bean filling, so if you’ve experienced any of those, you sort-of get the idea. Typically, taiyaki are made with a pancake-like batter – very similar to the batter the dorayaki pancakes are made from – with a dollop of red bean filling inside of fish (tai snapper) shaped iron molds. The molds are placed over gas burners, and that cooks the batter to a crispy golden brown.

About three years ago, there was a big boom in Japan of all kinds of “alternative” versions of taiyaki. Various fillings like custard and different batters like crepe batter were all the rage. Probably the biggest standout of that brief boom was shiro (white) taiyaki. Shiro taiyaki used mochi (steamed, pounded sticky short-grain rice) for the shell instead of the wheat-flour batter. Although it enjoyed an explosive boom amongst the fashionable teen to twenty-something female crowd, the trend quickly faded, and you’d be hard pressed to find shiro taiyaki today. In my familiar Sapporo haunts, the half-dozen shops that I used to see are all now gone, and I am not mourning their loss. I never really liked the gummy outside and non-sequitur fillings.

Enter Akimune-an. At first glance, their crispy, GBD shells look like traditional taiyaki, but the first bite reveals that these are actually mochi-based. Now what they got right that shiro taiyaki failed at was the crispy part. I have no idea how shiro taiyaki were made, since that always happened behind the scenes because they were trying to guard the manufacturing process, but these are made using the traditional iron molds and gas-fired burners. Cooking the mochi in the iron molds is the key to why these are so wonderful. The outside surface is brown and crispy and has the caramelized flavor of arare/senbei/kaki-mochi, but the inside is still velvety soft and chewy. The koge (“burnt” for lack of a better English word) flavor works seamlessly with the red bean filling. I’d be hard pressed to express a preference between the traditional batter and these.

Akimune-an originally was a guest vendor at Shirokiya Honolulu’s upstairs food concession area, but their popularity was so great that they decided to stay on as a permanent fixture. Since the upstairs area underwent a major renovation into the Yatai-mura food court, they moved downstairs where they remain now, so don’t go wandering around for half-an-hour upstairs not finding them (I’ve done that so you don’t have to). They’re on the mall level, mountainside. They had a “buy two, get one free” promotion going on when I went by in the end of December. Don’t steal them and go running around in a duffle coat shouting, “doite, doite,” even if you’re a really cute dojikko: Go buy some!

Highly recommended.

$2 USD each

Four out of four moe monkeys

2 Responses to “Akimune-an Taiyaki”

  • What, I’m so famished I was the verge of collapse so I had to eat one, I was going to pay for it along with the rest of my groceries but I forgot, doesn’t work either?
    Add that best consumed while hot, it tolerates getting cold better than okonomi or tako-yaki but still best fresh!

  • In LA, they have the Taiko-yaki also known as the Imagawa-yaki in downtown inside the Japanese Village where they also make and sell Mitarashi-Dango, and Satsuma-Age (minced white fish meat, flavored,boiled, then deep fried)

    Basically Taiko-yaki tastes the same as a Taiyaki although it’s not shaped like a fish but a round drum with Azuki filling.

    On weekends, in front of Marukai in Torrance, they have vendors out making Taiyaki regular and CHOCOLATE. It wasn’t bad..although nothing compared to the traditional.

    They also have the Takoyaki, Nikuman, Tenshin Amaguri, vendor out too! They’re all pretty good~♪

    If you happen to stop by LA but want some GOOD JP Food but not able tot go to Japan, ASK ME! (´ー`)y━~~

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