Which restaurant / store can safely claim they’ve been around for half a millennium? Kawabata Douki (川端道喜) in Kyoto is one such shop. Spanning 16 generations thus far, they are increasingly facing a challenge as global warming has affected the supply of one of their key ingredient – the Igusa (藺草).
Founded during the Muromachi period (室町時代 [1500s]) by an impoverished samurai after the decade-long civil war of 1467 (応仁の乱), the shop has been selling products to the Japanese Imperial Palace (天皇) ever since.
Dumplings, or chimaki (粽[ちまき]）, are their specialty. The two major types are the Suisen Chimaki (水仙ちまき) and Youkan Chimaki (羊羹ちまき）. Once made, they need to be consumed within two days.
Suisen Chimaki (水仙ちまき) is made only with water, sugar and kuzu, wrapped in bamboo leaves(笹) with Igusa (藺草). Youkan Chimaki (羊羹ちまき) has red beans added to it.
Very limited in supply and only available through pre-ordering, you’ll need to pick it up yourself at the shop. A bunch of 5 chimakis sell for 4000 yen.
The taste, is exceptional. It’s my first time tasting wagashi like this. Unwrapping the bamboo leaves you’ll find a shiny and translucent jelly, which tastes very clean, delicate, pure and smooth, and just with the right amount of sweetness. It feels as if the bamboo leaves infused flavours into the jelly, and drinking spring water from a bamboo shoot.
This is definitely the best encounter among all my Japanese confectionery experiences.
Kawabata Douki (川端道喜)
Address: 2-12 Shimogamo Minaminonogamicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto (京都府京都市左京区下鴨南野々神町2-12)
Tel: +81 75-781-8117
Visited on: 15 June, 2014
Hours: 9:30pm – 5:30am (closed on Wednesday)
Reservation is a must, take away only.