Tokyo is the most amazing city. You could spend a lifetime here and only scratch the surface of what it has to offer. On the very first day of our trip to Japan, we chose to set up in the gorgeous neighbourhood of Asakusa. Asakusa is famous for its Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, a very popular place for locals. To get to the temple you walk along the Nakamise shopping street, weaving in and out of all the shops so you don’t miss all the interesting things they sell here (including freshly made rice crackers). Wonder away from the market street to find all the real gems that make Tokyo so special. One of our favourite discoveries were the street vendors serving fish shaped waffles filled with red bean paste, still piping hot and completely addictive. Walk in any direction and you will find interesting things to see and do, day and night. Asakusa is even home to Japan’s oldest amusement park Hanayashiki Carnival (just behind the temple).
We stayed in a small ryokan (Ryokan Kamogawa), a traditional Japanese hotel where you switch your shoes for slippers at the door and sleep on tatami mats on the floor rather than beds (more comfortable that you would think). After an amazing Japanese breakfast spread which included rice, salmon, pickles, seaweed sheets, fired egg, miso and of course tea, we ventured out to what is probably not the first stop for many first time visitors to Tokyo, but was ours. Dandelion Chocolate.
Now if you follow my blog you would have seen my post of the original Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco last year. Dandelion is a fantastic bean-to-bar chocolate factory which means that not only are they making chocolate from the cocoa bean all the way to making chocolate bars but offer a range of amazing chocolate sweets and several hot chocolate offerings, all good. They are also very specific when it comes to sourcing their cocoa beans sustainability and have a very readable and impressing sourcing report which tells you all the details. They also do a great job at educating their customers about quality chocolate and the process that it takes to make a good chocolate bar and you can see it all happen in front of you in their café/factory as you sip your hot chocolate.
Well, Dandelion has set up here too and it is just a hop and a skip away from Asakusa in a neighbourhood called Kurumae. We arrived just as it opened but there was already a buzz inside. Beans were being sorted in the front room while others were being roasted and sorted in another much noisier area. There was a man testing how well tempered some liquid chocolate was and then proceeded to fill chocolate bar moulds with it, tap it twice on the counter and then put it aside to set. The whole area is open in a similar style to San Francisco. In fact everything looks the same…but different. All the menus and information is, of course, in Japanese. In San Francisco my favourite Dandelion hot chocolate is the Mission hot chocolate, inspired by the neighbourhood the factory is located in. Here in Tokyo they don’t have the mission hot chocolate but instead have a Kuramae hot chocolate inspired by this neighbourhood. Which is a beautiful dark hot chocolate with green tea added. This comes with a marshmallow and a little cookie crisp. We couldn’t help but ordered the flight of brownies made from different origin chocolate which are decadent to say the least.
If you are visiting Tokyo you may think that there are better things to do that go out of your way to visit Kurumae. Indeed there isn’t much around there except for Dandelion. But considering how close it is to Asakusa which you are likely to be visiting anyways, don’t miss this spot.
Verdict: A little piece of heaven. Don’t forget to taste all of their chocolate bars before you leave. They have generous samples. Dandelion Chocolate, 4-14-6 Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan