If life is like a box of chocolates, cute is a box of these manju from Nagoya.
Founded in 1927, Japanese confectionery Namikoshiken 浪越軒 has been producing tons of traditional sweets – but none of them have come close to winning the Internet over like their animal themed buns!
When I read about them on RocketNews24, one of my go-to sources for all things Japanese, I absolutely had to get my hands on them. Thanks to a friend who was travelling to Singapore, I managed to snag a 12-pc Handmade Zoo (“Tetzukuri Dobutsuen”) box from their online store on Rakuten!
Namikoshiken’s manju come in boxes of 3 (¥486), 6 (¥972) and 12 (¥1,782) – and you can choose between chocolate and koshian (red bean paste) fillings. The 12-pc box comes with both flavours.
You can see what combination of animals you’re going to get in the 12-pc box from the order page, but it’s nice looking at the cartoon faces on the box cover – like a a sneak preview of the cutesy treats to come!
And to make you further spoilt for choice, there’s also a Handmade Aquarium (“Tetzukuri Suizokukan”) featuring creatures of the deep – as well as the odd tempura shrimp. Decisions, decisions.
Now for the big reveal:
I am forever impressed by how accurate the actual products are to their catalogue depictions when it comes to Japanese sweet manufacturers. These sweeties are made by hand and do not contain any kind of preservatives, which explains their close expiration date. So it’s best to have them for tea as soon as you purchase or receive them in the mail.
You can stall their expiration by keeping them in the fridge for a day or two (which is what my friend did).
Even the slip is printed on good quality paper..
A close-up shot of all the manju before I *very reluctantly* ate them.. they were almost too cute to be eaten!
I also like how the second to fourth rows are sort of arranged by colour… 2 of a kind and another one on its own. 😉
According to RocketNews24, the panda, pig, kappa, elephant, bear and tanuki are the ones with chocolate filling. The rabbit, sheep, lion, koala, tiger and chick have the koshian filling. Or you can just get your family together for tea and play an edible round of Russian roulette. 😛
The fillings are generous, and you do get a reasonable ratio of filling and dough. However, the dough did taste a little stiff, and the koshian a tad cold from being kept in the fridge, so do pop them in the microwave to warm them up into the fluffy, rotund treats they are! The chocolate is on the intense side, though it would go really well with a cup of tea to balance the sweetness.
At S$31 (including delivery), these sweets are certainly not the cheapest on the block – but you do get all that attention to detail that makes them look and taste good. Definitely keeping a lookout for them if I ever travel to Nagoya!
Meanwhile, do check out Rocketnews24’s review of the Handmade Aquarium box. 😉
Main Store (Nagoya)
Address: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Moriyama-ku, Banchi 1 Chome 311
Opening hours: 9am – 4pm (closed on Wednesday except holidays and festivals)
Address: Ueno 7-1-1
Monday to Thursday and Saturday: 8am – 10pm
Friday: 8am – 10.30pm
Sunday: 8am – 9pm
(accurate as of Feb 2016)