October 3, 2012
By Minako Ueda and Ryoko Umekawa
Have you ever heard of confections created from Kyoto vegetables? Kyoto vegetable sweets, called Kyo-yasai okashi in Japanese, are made with varieties of vegetables that are unique to Kyoto. Kyoto vegetables are produced only in Kyoto, have a delicious taste and are high in nutritional value. Kyo-yasai include locally grown carrots, burdock root, green onions and black soybeans. All of these are used in Kyo-yasai okashi. There is one shop in Kyoto that specializes in Kyoto vegetable sweets. It is called Flavor’s and was only opened last year (2011).
Flavor’s is promoting a new philosophy concerning our relationship to food and how we eat food: “locally produced, locally consumed” or “chiisan-chisho” in Japanese. So the people at Flavor’s tried to develop their menu of sweet products entirely from local produce. At first, the owners tried to sell juices made by mixing different Kyoto vegetables together. However, they then discovered that Kyoto vegetables were quite suitable for making sweets. One of their main goals is to make Kyoto vegetables famous by using them in sweets.
Vegetables, such as spinach or garland chrysanthemums, are mixed with fruits in order to dilute their bitter tastes and give them sweeter flavors. Some fruit helps draw out the essential flavor of a vegetable and make it mildly sweet. At first, the shop staff encountered some difficulties, because they discovered that the taste of the same vegetables differed from time to time because of the changing climate.
To help stop the decline in agriculture in Japan, and promote interest in growing and eating vegetables, Flavor’s holds many educational events about food with high school and university students. They are also trying to inform the public about the value of vegetables through TV, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, fliers, and signboards.
There are three very popular, best-selling items at Flavor’s:
No.1 “Nishiki Roll”
This roll is Flavor’s best-known specialty, and has become the shop’s symbol. Its dough is mixed with seasonal vegetables and fruits. Its price is ￥1575.
No.2 “Assortment of Baked Confections”
This is assortment of sweets is popular as a souvenir or gift. Its price is ￥2100～.
This assortment of treats includes Cherry Blossom Madeleine, Ginger and Honey Pound Cake, and Pumpkin and Lemon Pound Cake.
No.3 “Spinach Tiramisu”
Surprisingly, spinach and tiramisu go well together. Its price is ￥525 per serving.
In addition to its standard menu, many other sweets using seasonal vegetables and fruits are sold in this shop. Now, (early June 2012), sweets using seasonal tomatoes are being sold: Tomato Shortcake, Tomato and Avocado Tart and Tomato Pound Cake. So we can savor various seasonal tastes whenever the menu is changed. So it is worthwhile to visit Flavor’s in each season.
Seasonal variety is one of the great attractions of this store. The types of vegetables and fruits used by Flavor’s in one year can number anywhere from 200 to 300. This seems like a lot, but one vegetable can have many varieties. We suggest trying one sweet at different times of the year to appreciate the subtle differences in taste in different seasons.
By the way, one vegetable especially unique to Kyoto, the Horikawa burdock, is often only available in Kyoto’s high-class Japanese-style restaurants. It is very expensive and rare, but we can taste it at a reasonable price mixed in sweets in Flavor’s.
Many foreign tourists visit Flavor’s. The items that seem to be especially popular among foreign visitors are Cookies made with Kujo Green Onion and White Soybean Paste and Ginger and Honey Pound Cake.
Paying a visit to Flavor’s is a chance to experience Kyoto’s creative culture – making new products and flavors from traditional recipes. Flavor’s has many delicious sweets we can only taste in Kyoto. Please go and try these new and unique tastes!
Flavor’s is located on Karasuma Street in Kyoto.You can find it about a six-minute walk from the Karasuma-Kawaramachi Station of the Hankyu Train Line.
The shop hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This store is takeout only, so there isn’t a cafe space.