Stripes' Trip: Well, Hello, Kitty!

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Guam

If you visit Nakamise shopping street, you’re sure to come across the Japanese Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo Enoshima. If you don’t have time to stop for a sit-down lunch, the location also offers a “take out” counter serving up various Hello Kitty-themed drinks and sweets.

For a sweet snack, I picked the matcha warabi mochi (450 yen, or $4.18), because I was curious about the differences between Korean and Japanese mochi. Plus, I am a matcha lover!

This particular mochi is cubed and coated in Kyoto Uji Matcha powder, one of Japan’s highest grades of matcha. It was served in a plastic cup with a paper sleeve prominently featuring Hello Kitty wearing a green kimono.

In Korea, “tteok” (Korean for rice cakes) can be found in pretty much every supermarket and convenience store. Like in Japan, these rice cakes made from glutinous rice are a favorite treat and are often included in a birthday or house-warming party spread.

When I bit into the Hello Kitty mochi, I expected it to be like tteok, but instead it was like jelly. The thin, green-powdered cubes were significantly less chewy than Korean rice cakes, which have a wonderfully chewy texture and a bit of resistance.

Since the Hello Kitty mochi were actually “warabi mochi,” they were made from bracken powder, giving them more softness and a gooey texture. Aside from the strange texture, the matcha powder coating was good but not as strong as I would’ve liked. I expected the green tea flavor to match the bright green color of the mochi pieces, but it didn’t.

A few days later, I was able to find and try “dango,” skewered mochi rice balls, from a shop in Fukagawa. These were a better sample to use for comparison with tteok. Dango was definitely closer to a taste of home, so to speak.

If you want to try mochi with moderate sweetness and less gooey texture, Japanese Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo Enoshima’s take-out version is the one for you. But if you’re looking for standard mochi, I would say to skip this even if you’re a Hello Kitty enthusiast.

Japanese Tea House  Hello Kitty Saryo Enoshima
Location: 1 Chome-4-4-12 Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa 251-0036
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. everyday.
Menu and info: http://www.hellokittysaryo.jp/menu?category=enoshima

A special latte

As the writers and I made our way through the busy Nakamise shopping street, and I was dreading the (unnecessary) climb up to the top of Enoshima Island for shirasu-don, the signature fish delicacy of the region, a café caught my eye. This was not something I had seen the last time I visited the island back in 2015, it was the Japanese Tea House Hello Kitty Saryo Enoshima.

I’m a sucker for Hello Kitty-themed restaurants and visited the chain tea house location in Kyoto a few years ago, so I knew what this was.

Perhaps I was a bit naïve to think my co-workers would agree, or secretly hoped we could avoid a climb up to the top of the island, so I suggested we have our lunch here instead as we perused the cute plastic menu samples in the glass case outside the location. They had green tea soba, tempura shrimp-don, Japanese curry with a Hello Kitty-shaped rice center, and even a Hello-Kitty shirasu-don special.

Their unenthusiastic “okay,” said it all – we would be heading up to the recommended shirasu-don place, where not only would the food not be cute, but it would mean I would be ordering sashimi instead.

But since I wouldn’t be getting my way, I figured I might as well take advantage of the tea house’s take out window. Here, wearied travelers can get Kyoto uji matcha treats of all kinds, including hot and iced teas, tea lattes, ice cream cones, matcha-dusted mochi and cream and adzuki bean stuffed dorayaki cake.

It was a hot day and I wanted something refreshing so I ordered the iced “Special Matcha Latte,” for 450 yen (about $4.20). It’s served cold with whipped cream on top and a dusting of uji matcha. I usually take my coffee black, so I figured I’d take this latte unsweetened. My first sip was super bitter, so I had to go back to the counter and graciously ask the employee to add sweet syrup after all. A tiny swoosh and the tea latte was just right.

The packaging was cute. It had a Hello Kitty sleeve and a slip on the straw with another Hello Kitty graphic. Everything else about this latte was regular. It was refreshing and had the right amount of matcha, but it was gone too fast. It’s a small drink and for the price, I’m not sure if I’d say this was worth it.

I don’t think I’ll be back to the island again anytime soon unless I’m taking visiting relatives or friends, but maybe I can convince them to stop in and have a sit-down Hello Kitty meal next time. This location also has a store with many Hello Kitty and other Sanrio character souvenirs and toys, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a fun gift.

– Denisse Rauda

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