I just got back from Kyoto, and really want to share one of the best-kept secrets among the locals in Gion — Kagizen Yoshifuza. It’s a renowned sweet shop established as long ago as the mid-Edo period, and and has been making traditional Kyoto sweets for hundreds of years! The shop is quaint but elegant, showcasing a ceiling-to-floor view of a well-manicured garden.
The atmosphere is tranquil, serene and one is instantly transported to a different headspace from the crowded streets of the busy geisha district outside.
We begin our meal with two cups of roasted tea and some sweets.
And before we knew it, our desserts arrived. We ordered the Chilled Arrowroot Noodles (¥1000) with brown sugar and warabi mochi (¥1000).
Let’s start with the warabi mochi. This Japanese sweet is a jelly-like confection made from bracken starch and covered in kinako or soybean powder. It’s often served with a side of brown syrup.
The texture is soft, jelly-like and semi-sweet. My mom loves the soybean powder. It gives everything this toasted, nutty flavour which compliments the light and sweet jelly perfectly.
We also ordered a bowl of frothy Matcha (¥500). The slight bitterness of the powdered green tea really brings out the sweetness of the desserts and vice versa.
And now, for Kagizen’s specialty — the Kuzukiri Chilled Arrowroot Noodles.
This translucent noodle has been served in this shop for over 300 years! The noodles come in a beautiful lacquered container with two layers. The first contain brown syrup and underneath that, the chilled noodles nestling atop glittering ice crystals.
We had to eat these quickly, as we heard that over time, the noodles will lose their translucency and turn opaque which would affect their texture and flavour. So we slurped them up with gusto.
The noodles were so refreshing! It glided easily down the throat and when dipped into the brown sugar syrup made for a delightful dessert. Definitely an unforgettable dish, enhanced by such a beautiful presentation. And that’s not all that made a strong impression.
The garden, while small, was well-maintained. It showcased beautiful water fountains, rock formations, fiery red trees, and pebbled walkways. We spent 10 minutes just immersed in the peaceful sounds of trickling water, bird calls and the cool, crisp autumn air.
It was truly a transporting, invigorating experience and I highly recommend this gem of a sweet shop to anyone who visits Gion. It’s still relatively untouched by tourists, so do enjoy feeling like you’ve been let in on a local secret.
Kagizen Yoshifusa Honten 鍵善良房 本店
264 Gion-machi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku