Are you looking for a Japanese restaurant that is a little bit unusual? How about something that looks like one kind of food but turns out to be something completely different? Look no further than this quirky restaurant, where the meals aren’t quite what they seem!
If you were to visit Baigetsudo (菓子工房 梅月堂) in Honjo City (本庄市), Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県), you might notice that the beer, bowls of ramen (拉麺; Japanese noodle dish), yakisoba (焼きそば; fried noodles in sauce), soba (そば; cold noodles with dipping sauce) and miso soup (味噌; fermented soybeans) are being sold next to cakes. You might not believe at first glance that they are actually all desserts!
The dishes served at Baigetsudo aren’t your typical Japanese food. They are all desserts that are supposed to look like the real thing! Hiromichi Iino (飯野博通), the fourth-generation president of Baigetsudo, calls them the nanchatte (なんちゃって; lookalike) series.
Baigetsudo is a confectionery store that has been in the business since 1897. The company has been serving both western and traditional Japanese confectioneries for 120 years now. Ever since Iino started the nanchatte series, which eventually led to getting featured on some Japanese TV programs, people from different prefectures such as Tochigi (栃木), Ibaraki (茨城), Tokyo (東京), and even Sendai (仙台) are flocking to the store thanks to its unique assortment of desserts in disguise.
“There were no cakes that look like ramen. I thought, ‘why not create them myself?’” Iino said. If you decide to visit this unusual eatery, here are five dishes from Baigetsudo that you should definitely try – or buy them for your loved ones and watch their reaction!
Iino shares that at the bottom of the nanchatte ramen is a sponge cake covered with a layer of pannacotta pudding. The noodles are made of yellow mont blanc chestnut cream while the soup broth consists of tea-flavored jelly. Beside it is the nanchatte beer made of apple jelly topped with lemon jelly beer foam. Don’t they look deceiving?
Another in-demand treat is the nanchatte miso soup, which is said to be made from almond jelly and caramel mousse. One of the customers bought this for her child as an after-school snack. The mother said that she couldn’t wait to see how her daughter would react to her sweet prank. What a cute and yummy way to fool someone!
The nanchatte gyoza (餃子; dumplings) is actually made from daifuku (大福餅; rice cake with filling) loaded with yellow peach cream, kiwi, and strawberries. If someone you know is a lover of gyoza, why not give someone a sweet shock with Baigetsudo’s version?
Next, we have the nanchatte yakisoba, which is made up of chestnut cream for the soba noodles. Similar to the mori soba, it is packed with roll cakes and fresh cream to the core with slices of strawberries on the side, which acts like a fake beni shoga (紅生姜; red pickled ginger).
On the other hand, a not-so-popular choice from the series is the nanchatte mori soba. Inside it is a roll cake with fresh cream covered with mont blanc chestnut paste, which is made to resemble the soba noodles (蕎麦; buckwheat). The dipping sauce is made from pure coffee jelly and it comes with pistachio and green bean paste, which is supposed to be the negi (葱; green onion) and wasabi (山葵; horse radish) condiments. It sounds really good, though; perhaps the reason for its low sales is that its cost is a little bit on the pricey side!
And, finally, the latest product developed by Iino is the nanchatte katsudon (カツ丼; pork cutlet topped on rice). He made use of ingredients found in traditional Japanese sweets. The pork cutlets are made from fried rice cakes dipped in black sugar syrup to imitate the sauce. As an alternative for steamed rice, he used puffed rice. Customers say that it tastes just like a classic Japanese snack.
When asked about his inspiration for these nanchatte desserts, Iino explains: “People smile when they’re surprised, and their smiles keep me going. I want to create more lookalikes to make my customers happy.”
Baigetsudo is a five-minute walk from JR Kodama Station (児玉駅) on the JR Hachiko Line (八高線)
Honjo City is around two hours travel time from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) and, an hour and a half from Tokyo Station.
This sure is a fun, gourmet way to fool someone and make him or her smile! Why not grab some of these unusual treats and fool your family or friends?