Nov 13, 2016
Nope, anmitsu still doesn't make much sense!
I may be deeply cynical about Japanese dessert but I don't let this feeling stop me from trying. Sunday lunch came in the form of a ramen / dessert set from 糸ぐるま / itoguruma; a chain family restaurant in Japan, so old it doesn't even have a homepage. It doesn't seem to care either. In fact, by many accounts 糸ぐるま looks to be on its way out, and in terms of atmosphere delivers the dining equivalent of a Sunday afternoon spent in a home center i.e. it's a bit depressing.
I went with a まいこセット (maiko set). For around 800 yen it came with a double header of shoyu ramen and anmitsu (あんみつ) dessert (above), pickles and a cup of green tea. Even though anmitsu has been around longer than 糸ぐるま, it's still very much a 'dessert staple' in Japan, particularly amongst the older crew. To this diner, it very much doesn't make sense. A base of cubed agar jelly is topped with anko (sweet azuki bean paste), banana, kiwi, satsuma, a sole cherry, and gyūhi (a very soft mochi style sweet). The whole bonkers combo comes with a small serving of kuromitsu, a rich, thick, black sauce that tastes like liquorice.
The ramen was nice. The anmistsu, as I could tell by looking at it, is something that I may never get used to. The Japanese friend with whom I was out for lunch assured me that anmitsu is a healthy dessert, to which I responded that most people eat dessert exactly because it's unhealthy. Ultimately though, the combination of the two did a sterling job of filling me up without leaving me half comatose as Sunday lunches have a habit of doing back home.
How does the ramen / anmistsu combination sound to you?