Dorayaki is very popular “wagashi” (Japanese sweets) that “anko” (red bean paste) is sandwiched between two pancake-like buns. Here I select the best Drayaki from my personal perspective.
Four very famous wagashi stores for Dorayaki
There are three very famous wagashi stores for Dorayaki in Tokyo. They are Kamejū, Sōgetsu and Usagi-ya. But some add Seiju-ken to these three stores and say four very famous stores for Dorayaki. Here I select the best Dorayaki among Kamejū,Seiju-ken, Sōgetsu and Usagi-ya.
But before proceeding, there is one thing to note. There are three Usagi-ya. They are Usagi-ya at Ueno, Usagi-ya at Nihonbashi, Usagi-ya at Asagaya. Kisaku Taniguchi established Usagi-ya at Ueno, his son established Usagi-ya at Nihonbashi, his daughter established Usagi-ya at Asagaya. Their Dorayaki are different but here I pick up Usagi-ya at Ueno out of respect for the first founder of Usagi-ya.
Well then, among the four, which Dorayaki is the best? Here I rank Dorayaki of these four stores based on three points of view. They are (1) taste, (2) availability, (3) comprehensive perspective. Refer to Kamejū, Seiju-ken, Sōgetsu, Usagi-ya for more information on the stores and their Dorayaki.
Ranking based on taste
Sōgetsu names its Dorayaki “Kuromatsu”. Here “kuro” means black and “matsu” means pine. The name comes from that the burn pattern on the surface of the toasted batter resembles pattern on the trunk of black pine.
Sōgetsu uses “kokutō” (brown sugar or raw sugar) and honey to make batter. “Kokutō” give characteristic flavor to the batter of Kuromatsu. It also has a hint of bitterness. This subtle bitterness contributes to reduce sweetness of “Anko” (red bean paste).
But Kuromatsu’s “Anko” itself is not so sweet as that of Seiju-ken. The batter is soft and moist. The combination of the batter and “Anko” is in harmony. I think this harmony creates excellent taste of Kuromatsu.
Kamejū’s Dorayaki is very large. It’s about 110 mm in diameter.
In above picture, you can see there are many crater-like holes on the surface of toasted batter of Dorayaki. Artisans intentionally get air in the batter. That is the reason to produce crater-like holes on the surface of toasted batter and also one of the reasons for the batter’s softness.
Batter is soft and moist. I’ve never eaten such soft and moist batter. Some say batter is soft like a sponge cake. Others say it’s soft like a chiffon cake.
Anko (red bean paste) is not too sweet. Objectively, amount of red bean paste is small comparing to large batter, but when we eat and taste Dorayaki, it seems balance of red bean paste and batter is very good. But in my opinion batter lacks a little in flavor.
Seijyu-ken sells two kinds of Dorayaki, Ōban (large version) and Koban (small version). Here I select Ōban (large version) for comparison.
Toasted batter of Dorayaki is soft and moist. Though batter of Kamejū is softer and moister than Seiju-ken’s, the texture of batter of Seiju-ken is good. Burn on the inner side of batter gives a hint of bitterness and it contributes to reduce slightly the sweetness of Anko (red bean paste).
The feature of Seiju-ken’s Dorayaki is large amount of Anko.
You can confirm it in the above picture. Using high quality ingredients, carefully made Anko must be very attractive for Anko lovers. But for me, Seju-ken’s Dorayaki is too sweet.
The surface of batter looks toasted uniformly. The batter is not as soft and moist as other three store’s Dorayaki. Though Usagi-ya’s red bean paste seems to keep the form of bean better than other three stores, the red bean paste a bit watery.
Ranking based on availability
Tough after 16:00 you need reservation to buy Dorayaki, you don’t have to wait not so long to get it before 16:00. Besides you can drop by while you visit Ueno.
Though there is risk for sold out, if you visit early you may get Dorayaki waiting not so long. If you plan to visit Asakusa, you can drop by while you are there.
You have to wait long to buy Dorayaki. Besides long waiting time, you have to go to Higashi-jūjō only for Dorayaki.
Seiju-ken’s Dorayaki is sold out soon. Its Dorayaki is hardest to get.
Ranking from comprehensive perspective
Kamejū’s Dorayaki is good. Especially its batter is most soft and moist. You can drop by when visit Asakusa.
Sōgetsu’s Dorayaki tastes excellent. But you have to Higashi-jūjō only for Dorayaki.
Seiju-ken’s Dorayaki is hard to get. But if you are Anko lover, it may be worth trying.
Probably the easiest Dorayaki to get among four stores.