Sweets are displayed in bamboo cases.
As Tamara Palmer pointed out Wednesday at SFoodie, newly opened Minamoto Kitchoan (648 Market at New Montgomery) specializes in the traditional Japanese sweets known as wagashi, which take on multiple shapes and sizes: animals, fruit, plants, even generic balls of dough. Tamara loved the vanilla cream cookies and yuzu- and white peach-flavored jellies. We swung by to explore further — easy to do, since there’s a wide assortment of sweets to choose from, most of which consist of rice flour, beans, fruit, and sugar.
We tried the Kusa Mochi ($2.50), which is red bean paste wrapped in rice cake with mugwort. It was very soft and chewy, with a consistency like raw dough. The red bean paste filling wasn’t overly sweet, and even had real pieces of red bean inside — nice. Other items include Mame Daifuku ($2.80), red bean paste wrapped in rice cake with black beans, Matcha Manjyu ($2.20), white bean paste with green tea powder wrapped in steamed wheat flour, and Tsuya ($3.00) red bean paste sandwiched between two sweet mini pancakes.
Kusa Mochi: Soft and chewy, with a bean filling that's not too sweet.
It’s all very high-end and minimalist — customers carry little woven baskets to fill with treats. The uniformed employees are traditional and polite, offering to help the confused with any questions they might have. Luckily, each of the treats comes with an English translation describing the ingredients. It’s all a bit on the pricey side (some treats cost upwards of $11 each). But the wagashi come straight from Japan, so the relatively steep prices are surely attributed to the overseas shipping costs.
Minamoto Kitchoan is a nice, albeit pricey, dessert shop, but you get great service and authentic treats straight from Japan. At least it’s not another cupcake shop.
Original SFoodie article: ‘Further Exploration at Japanese Sweet Shop Minamoto Kitchoan’