At the mention of strawberries eaten in Japan, most people will probably have the impression that this is a fruit typically harvested in spring between March and May. Do you know that these strawberries available in spring are usually grown using natural methods? In order to cope with the high demand for these lovely red jewels, especially during the Christmas season when they are used in desserts such as strawberry shortcake, there is another harvesting season between December and February for strawberries grown in greenhouses. If you are going to be in Japan this winter 2017 and love strawberries, how about heading to these 5 places to enjoy a strawberry feast to your heart’s content?
Luxury hotel the St. Regis Osaka’s French bistro, RueD’or, is holding their strawberry buffet entitled LOVE STRAWBERRY (Japanese only), from 5 January to 31 May 2017, which features a total of 50 food and drink items made from these red jewels. For a price of 5,800 yen (inclusive of tax) each and half price for children between the ages of 4 and 12 years, you get to enjoy the spread for two hours, between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm, while being surrounded by decorations with a red color theme and romantic music playing in the background.
For people who aren’t into desserts, fret not because there is a selection of savory French cuisine so you can enjoy the buffet as well. Reservations are required so you can call 06-6258-3333 between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm for inquiries first and submit your reservation online. There will be a cancellation penalty of 50 percent of the cost if you cancel the day before your reservation date and 100 percent if it’s done on the same day.
Starting with the restaurant’s signature St. Regis’ strawberry welcome drink, look forward to an extensive spread including fresh strawberries, strawberry shortcakes, chiffon cakes, ring cakes, muffins, tarts, tiramisu, Japanese-style youkan, Paris-Brest, red velvet rolls, mousse cakes, soup, cookies, macarons, popcorn, daifuku (大福), sandwiches, salad, maki-zushi (巻き寿司), French toast, grilled salmon, pork fillets, wine jam, grilled chicken, and cocktails. You will be surprised to see how versatile the strawberry can be in the culinary world!
Afternoon Tea offers a variety of food and drink items in its shops located at various places in Japan so you can visit their website for a full list of their branches. They are going to launch their new English-style menu featuring some limited edition items using strawberries as part of their event, “Like Strawberry! (苺づくし),” which is ongoing until 8 February 2017.
Some of the signature items available during this period include the fluffy strawberry shortcakes made from a walnut cake base and served with gelato, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries, which cost 940 yen each on its own and 1,440 yen if served with tea. As for the strawberry and rose layered soda which costs 890 yen, it will be available from 10 January.
For those who want to try the Strawberry Afternoon Tea Set here, you can get four of your favorite desserts, including the shortcake and the strawberry sandwich, and enjoy them with tea at the price of 1,830 yen (inclusive of tax) from 10 January. Note that the items which can be ordered are from the after-2 PM menu only.
The ultimate indulgence here would have to be their Sweets Order Buffet (Japanese only) which is only available at 10 outlets in cities such as Tokyo (東京), Yokohama (横浜), Niigata (新潟), Sendai (仙台), Osaka (大阪), and Kagoshima (鹿児島) from 16 January to 8 February 2017 in the evenings of Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Depending on the outlet you visit, the operation hours of this buffet would differ so please check the timing and make your reservation via Peatix before visiting. For 2,980 yen per adult and 1,400 yen per child from 4 to 12 years old, you get to enjoy the buffet comprising of 10 types of desserts, salad, soup, French toast, and 8 types of tea for two hours.
KIHACHI, which operates restaurants, cafes, and patisseries, will be launching its limited edition strawberry desserts this season. Their centerpiece attraction would have to be their signature strawberry citrus roll cake which is made from Tochiotome strawberries (とちおとめ苺) and citrus fruits with a mango and orange flavored custard cream. This will be available from 11 January until 28 February 2017. Alternatively, you can choose the traditional strawberry roll cake (Japanese only) which is available from now until 10 January. These roll cakes are both selling at 584 yen per slice, while the full-length rolls of 14 cm and 28 cm are selling at 2,268 yen and 4,536 yen each (inclusive of tax), respectively.
There are also three new premium desserts available this 2017 including the Berry Nu Brest Parfait which uses the branded strawberries Akai Shizuku (紅い雫) and is going for 605 yen each from 11 January to the end of February. The strawberry tiramisu selling at 584 yen each is already available in stores, while the strawberry Napoleon pie which is available exclusively at the Tobu Department Store in Ikebukuro (池袋) will be sold from 12 January to 25 February at the price of 648 yen each.
Sulbing Korean Dessert Cafe, which entered the Japanese market in June 2016 with its first store in Harajuku, will be launching their strawberry festival from 10 January to 12 February. Although you may think that winter is not the best time to be munching on these icy desserts, it will be quite an experience savoring the variety of textures this dessert has to offer.
For those who are not familiar with the Korean dessert bingsu, it is actually made of shaved ice which tastes and looks like powdered snow before being topped up with various ingredients like milk, fresh fruits, cheesecake, red bean paste, ice cream, and Korean rice cakes. At Sulbing Harajuku, they will be launching their premium strawberry sulbing at the price of 1,500 yen. What’s more, they will even bring back the legendary Nama Ichigo Sulbing (生イチゴソルビン) which was supposed to be sold for one week on a limited basis when the store first opened but ended up being sold out within 3 hours on the day of its opening! For the price of 1,400 yen each, you can relive this sought-after dessert during this period only. Note that both items have to be eaten within the store so takeaways are not available.
Last but not least, here’s a wagashi (和菓子) which accentuates the flavor of strawberries in a Japanese style! Wagashi maker Itohkyuemon from Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture produces their signature strawberry matcha daifuku (Japanese only) which incorporates the local famous matcha with quality bean paste and slightly sour strawberries to bring out the best in each other and produce the ultimate balanced flavor. Each box contains six pieces and sells for 1,814 yen (inclusive of tax). If your order amount is more than 6,480 yen (can include other items from the company), the delivery charge will be waived.
As there are no preservatives, the daifuku has to be consumed within three days and kept in the fridge. If you are interested in getting this, note that the product is only available up until 10 April 2017. Apparently, this daifuku is rather well known in Japan and has been featured in various TV programs such as “Arashi ni shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ),” “Sukkiri!! (スッキリ!!),” and “Mezamashi Terebi (めざましテレビ).”
For those who are still undecided over what to get for their beloved as a Valentine’s Day gift next February 2017, you can consider their Ochame-san (お茶苺さん) which are made from whole freeze-dried strawberries coated with two types of Uji matcha (宇治抹茶) and white chocolate. Note, though, that even though you can pre-order (Japanese only) this product now, delivery will only take place from 11 February to 1 June 2017. Each box costs 1,199 yen (inclusive of tax) and there are only 3,006 sets left as of 6 January 2017 so do act fast if you are interested.
If you happen to be in Kyoto or Uji, you can visit Itohkyuemon’s shops which are listed here (Japanese only). They also have an overseas branch in Taipei, Taiwan. However, if it is inconvenient for you to head to these places, you might wish to consider ordering from their online shop (Japanese only) instead.
Now that you are armed with so much information about the various strawberry treats across Japan, why not include them in your itinerary and savor these lovely gems which are featured in such a wide variety of dishes? Enjoy your strawberry feast in Japan this winter!