Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Inamura Shozo chocolates, Yanaka

Once in a while I eat some chocolate. Not often enough to make a blog out of it, y'know? I've gone off eating mass-produced stuff like Meiji and Ghana (i.e., Japanese Hershey's) because it doesn't seem worth spending the calories on. There's a whole world of high-end chocolate that's well worth the calories if you can stand the expense though, and Shozo Inamura is firmly in it.

This deserves to be on the standard tour for food tourists visiting Tokyo. The first thing that's notable is the location - it's sort of at the top of Fujimizaka in Yanaka, or at least between Yanaka Ginza and Nippori Station. This makes it convenient, but it's not easy to find - the metal-and-glass building is well hidden down a small alley. It's obviously something special, so I'm not sure why they picked such a weak location. Then again, the main store a few blocks away (which has been open since 2000, and is where I remember years ago seeing long long lines of people waiting to buy the famous pastries) is almost in Yanaka cemetery, so maybe Inamura just likes low rent.

There's nothing else low-rent about this place. The staff are faultlessly elegant, the chocolates are as jewel-like as required (someone literally remarked that they looked like gems when presented in the box), and the spotless kitchen / production facility is just to the right of this woman. There's a limited selection of incredible-looking chocolate cakes as well, but the chocolates are the thing here.You can get coffee and eat in the small cafe section too.

Should you be feeling generous enough to spring for a box, they'll fill one from the case when you order. I just asked for the 10-spot and got the standard assortment, but you might be able to specify varieties. Don't you love the way they designate flavors with subtle designs on top? The specks of gold leaf, the ripples, the dusting. These really were worth it in comparison to other high end chocolates; without going nuts over things that you can't taste in a picture, they were totally fresh, the fillings were smooth in a way that's very rare, and the flavors were really well balanced. Standouts were the 'Yanaka' of ginger and milk chocolate, the green tea / cocoa butter (a better way to do matcha, I think), the slight crunch of the hazelnut...heck, even the passion-mango one was good, and that's like matcha for me in that I don't usually like chocolates with that.

Screw up your courage and wallet, make the trip, try 'em.


  1. Beautiful camerawork on the box of chocolates, looks amazing!

  2. Yes, yes it is. And I was thinking that even before you wrote it!