Hokkaido Special: Roasted Sweet Potato

I absolutely adore sweets. Pastries, candies, cakes, you name it. If it’s sugar-packed and cutely crafted then I’m eating it, no exceptions, so maybe that’s the actual reason I came to Japan. I don’t know… I haven’t noticed.dsc00632

Looking for snacks is one of the main reasons I browse convenience stores. Tonight was no exception. A trip to the local Lawson (30 seconds away, huzzah!) usually ends with a less than spectacular chocolate crepe or custard filled choe a la creme, but what awaited my late night hunger today was none other than a limited edition Hokkaido Sweet Potato.

“You’re such an old soul Mr. Ex-Otaku.” Yeah well, when in Rome do as the Romans do; since I’m in Japan I might as well indulge in some traditional Asian treats. Even if it is just from the local convenience store.

But don’t look down on these establishments. They might be small but they have exclusives that even high end shopping centers can’t stock. Such as this 窯焼きポテト(kamayakipotato) {Sweet potato roasted in an old style furnace}. Isn’t that a mouthful?

I must say, it wasn’t the type of dessert that caught my attention. It was the packaging. For starters, the wrapping is in the design of a newspaper article. The parts circled in red are specifically about the company of this product. Click the pictures for full view and captions.

Now that’s what I call effective advertising.

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Inside is a succulent looking loaf of sweet potato. Nothing particularly interesting, but the texture kept me mesmerized. This isn’t fresh, it’s prepackaged with preservatives. Yet, it didn’t give off that icky sensation that some foods do (I’m looking at you Chef BoyArdee, but I love ravioli either way).

The plastic was surprisingly hard to open.

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Texture is a large component of taste after all.
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Just like ripping into a real sweet potato.

The inner filling hits you first. I’m sure it’s a condensed form of sweet potato extract, but it comes across as yellow custard, although slightly more viscous. In other words, sweet, smooth syrup cover the taste buds while the rough skin of the dessert massages it in.

And then you start chewing.

It honestly feels like eating a roasted sweet potato that’s been set out to chill. The outer layer resists with a bouncy sensation that gives into that creamy center. There’s a sheet of real sweet potato skin on the bottom (when I realized, more than half was gone robbing me of a photo) that basically melts in your mouth.

Its not overly sweet; its what you would expect from a Japanese dessert. Balanced taste that leaves you craving for more. However, I regret not coupling it with tea.

I do have to say that it lacks a strong sweet potato flavor. It might be sweet, but if it wasn’t for the texture I couldn’t be sure if it was actually a sweet potato. There’s 焼き芋 (yakiimo) ice cream that surpasses this pastry, and that only costs about a dollar. This specialty holds a price tag of 540 円 or 5 USD. Talk about branding.

This price hike isn’t uncommon in Japan. Just like how America goes fanatic over the idea of Napa valley wine, Japanese go crazy over anything made in Hokkaido. I call it the Hokkaido phenomenon, which we’ll revisit in another article.

Until then, enjoy your sweets. They’re healthier than smoking. Or cocaine.

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8 thoughts on “Hokkaido Special: Roasted Sweet Potato

  1. It seems like every area be it a large prefecture or tiny town has a special sweet. That one looks nice. Although if you pick your food based on newspaper wrappings then you would love British fish and chips. It used to always come wrapped in newspaper to keep it warm.

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      1. It used to be done at all the take away restaurants as it was cheaper than buying real wrappings. They don’t do it anymore as it was thought of as unhygienic ever though the newspaper never actually touched the food. What I find quite funny is the fake British pub chains in Japan Hub and Oxo both have specially printed fake newspaper that they serve fish and chips on. I’m also amazed people pay so much. Fish and chips was never a great or exciting food. It’s famous for being the cheap, easy working class food that all the factory workers would buy on he way home.

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  2. Please do more food stories like this one! Enjoyed the detail and photos. I love the conbini too – could not stop visiting them for snacks each night, even after dinner when I was full.

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    1. I definitely will write more short tid-bits of food experiences, but I don’t think any will have as much information as your posts. I’d really like to learn of new places from your blog too. Although, yeah. Conbini’s have everything. It’s hard to resist.

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