Kawagoe is famous for its sweet potatoes, as evidenced by its mascot being the adorable sweet potato. As such, you can find many sweet potato-based dishes, drinks, and treats scattered throughout the city. It’s the start of sweet potato season, and over the past few months, I’ve been slowly trying each of these treats and am happy to report on my first batch of delicacies from the summer!
Purple Sweet Potato Soft Serve
On the cool summer treat side of things, we have purple potato soft serve, which can be found in many shops on the shopping street in the warehouse district (historic Kawagoe). The soft serve is much thicker than what you might think, and make no mistake: this has a sweet potato taste. However, it is a light flavor with a good, rich sweetness to it. Since you can snag one of these for 300 yen or less, I highly recommend!
Sweet Potato Gelato
Going thicker, there are also a few gelato shops that will carry sweet potato as a choice. We went with a sweet potato/matcha side-by-side. It’s no purple sweet potato, but the flavor here is much more subdued than the soft serve; barely perceptible if you’re not paying attention. It is also thicker and a bit starchier. If you’re looking for something more mellow, this could be an option!
Sweet Potato Beer
The local brewery, Koedo (Coedo) brewing, serves up a good variety of local brews, one of which being the Sweet Potato Amber, Beniaka. Many of the cafes and bars near the historic warehouse district have bottles, but Cafe Elevato has most of the brews on tap, which is a pleasant change of pace. The Beniaka has a strong punch with 7% ABV. It’s not as sweet or heavily flavored as most pumpkin beers you see in the states in the fall. Rather, it aims for a simple sweetness that compliments the malts. Overall, an enjoyable sweet potato beverage I can recommend to those who imbibe!
Sweet Potato Shochu
While not from Kawagoe, I was able to try some shochu from the famous Kyushu island city of Miyazaki. I had it once while visiting Kuratsu [link] for a work trip. It’s a fairly strong brew at 22% ABV, but the flavor was a little surprising. It wasn’t very strong with the alcohol flavor. There was no burn and it drank smoothly. The sweet potato flavor, however, was not very strong. I think it’s a novel idea, but unlike the Beniaka beer, it really didn’t highlight the sweet potato flavor in a unique or memorable way. Still, it was a high-quality shochu!
I’m sure there are many more sweet potato treats I can indulge in that I’m unaware of, and I hope to try them all in the future. Are there any local crops that you enjoy from your area? Let me know in the comments!