Tokyo Souvenir : Ningyo Yaki Character-Shaped Sponge Cake
The other day, I placed an order with Amazon Japan for a traditional Japanese confection and yesterday received it. Here is what I purchased this time.
Actually, these are sponge cakes modeled after the face of some characters and are famous as a souvenir of Tokyo.
Ningyo Yaki (人形焼)
Once removing the plastic wrappers, you can clearly see the outline of the face. These are a traditional Japanese confection called “Ningyo Yaki (人形焼)”. “Ningyo (人形)” literally means “doll” in Japanese, while the suffix “Yaki (焼)” stands for the cooking method “bake”, by the way.
Ningyo Yaki vs Taiyaki
Ningyo Yaki consists of baked Castella cake filled with “Anko (餡子)” sweet Azuki red bean paste and has a character shape. Therefore, the dough is made mainly with hen’s egg, wheat flour and sugar (starch syrup).
The traditional Japanese cake, “Taiyaki (たい焼き)” also has an Anko filling and is similar to Ningyo Yaki. Taiyaki can be made with the same ingredients as Ningyo Yaki but is definitely shaped like the red sea bream that the Japanese word “Tai (鯛)” means.
Traditionally, Ningyo Yaki is modeled after “Shichifukujin (七福神 : the Seven Lucky Gods)” like these or “Bunraku Ningyo (文楽人形 : Bunraku Puppet)”. In recent years, Ningyo Yaki is available in various character shapes like Doraemon and Hello Kitty.
Asakusa’s Ningyo Yaki
If you have a plan to visit Asakusa in Tokyo for sightseeing and stop by “Sensoji (浅草寺)”, the oldest temple in Tokyo, you will see some shops in the precincts baking Ningyo Yaki. Actually, Ningyo Yaki is known as one of the specialty foods of Asakusa, together with “Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)“.
Where to Buy Ningyo Yaki in Tokyo
Since Ningyo Yaki originated in Ningyo-cho, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, the character-shaped sponge cake is one of the traditional sweets that Tokyo boasts. Therefore, you can find Ningyo Yaki in various places in Tokyo like the souvenir shops in railroad stations.