Yakumo: Classic Desserts
Japan’s traditional meal-ending confections, collectively known as wagashi, still have a passionate fan base. Often made with red-bean paste, sugar, and mochi (glutinous rice cakes), the treats were once a favored gift exchanged by samurai. The most sculptural form, namagashi, resembles cherry blossoms, fall foliage, ripe plums, or chestnut shells. Another version, rakugan, is usually pressed into wooden molds to create bite-size sweets, examples of which are on display at Higashiya, designer Shinichiro Ogata’s updated tearoom in Yakumo, in the Meguro neighborhood. At an equally sleek branch in Nishi-Azabu, snacks with inventive shapes and flavorings such as blueberry, macadamia, and brandy jelly offset bitter green tea. Wagashi for two $40.