Sakuraco – November 2023: Wonders of Saitama

SakuraCo is a  monthly box of delicious gourmet treats and snacks from Japan’s artisan makers. Also included is a piece of traditional Japanese somewhere, and each box has a different fascinating theme.

The ox is beautifully presented, and every month it has a different design. For November we are travelling to  Saitama City, close to Tokyo, a place with a rich cultural life and history.

The menu booklet  contains a full list, with allergies and descriptions, of the items in the box, including the artisanal creators and cultural origins. There is also a great deal to read around the theme of the box. There;’s a wonderful article about the history of the city, along with incredible;y pictures that really give you a sense of the place. You can also read about local delicacies, including some included in the box.

Curry Senbei are made by local confectioners, and the rich curry coating of these crunchy rice crackers is blended from 15 different spices.

The smaller rounds are Chestnut Cake, which is a delicate wafter shell filled with chestnut infused white bean paste.

Chapon Sayama Tea is grown in Santana Prefecture, and it has a rich flavour from its thicker leaves, which were developed to grow well in the colder climate. A delicious accompaniment to any of the goodies in the box!

Nori Thunder Okoshi and Matcha Thunder Okoshi are a traditional chewy rice cake confection that have been enjoyed for centuries. The  flavours, matcha and seaweed, are classics in Japanese cuisine, and the packages feature the wind and thunder gods Raijin and Fujin.

Mochi, rice cakes made from glutinous rice flour, come in many flavours, and these Walnut Mochi have been perfectly blended with the finely chopped nuts for a delicious soft mochi with a taste that is not too sweet but extremely delicious!

The funny face pink and white candies are Oni & Otafuku Rakugan. They feature two Japanese mythical characters, and are made from dried rice flour and sugar, a delicacy that have been an integral part of tea ceremonies for centuries.

Gummies may seem like a normal candy, but these Saitama Pear Gummies are made from the juice of Saitama Pears, which are knows for their sweetness and are grown in Saitama.

The Strawberry Cookie is another specialty of Saitama, they are made with fresh strawberry puree and are wonderfully soft and chewy.

Milk Castella Cakes are made from milk from Hokkaido. They’re bitesize morsels, light and fluffy and sweet, and go perfect;y with a cup of green tea.

Another traditional Japanese snack, Black Karinto have been made in Japan for over 700 years! They are made from flour, yeast, and brown sugar then deep fried in rice oil. These are coated with black molasses, which has a wonderfully complex sweet flavour.

Daifuku are soft mochi balls with many different fillings. These contain traditional Azuki bean paste, and are sweetened with sugar cane.

Sweet potato may not be the most familiar filling for pastries, but this Sweet Potato Danish has the perfect combination of earthy sweet potato and delicious light and flaky pastry. It’s definitely something to add a twist to breakfast time!

Daruma Sesame Senbei are a traditional crisp rice cracker baked with black sesame and seasoned with the sweet-savoury flavour of soy. The packaging has a Daruma, a traditional symbol of good luck.

This month’s homeware item is a pair of Wasaka Crane Chopsticks. They are decorated with a soaring crane, a symbol of good fortune and longevity. Also included is a beautiful Arigato Calligraphy Bookmark, which features a hand painted Japanese calligraphy design that means ‘thank you’.

Our score: 10.0/ 10

As always, I am enormously impressed with this month's selection. Sakuraco always manage to create a perfect balance of items, in flavour and texture, and always with some fascinating cultural and historical connections. It's fascinating to read alongside trying out all the different goodies, and special favourites this month are the Chestnut Cakes - so autumnal! - and the Black Karinto, with such an amazing molasses flavour. This is a wonderful way to enjoy and appreciate some of the enormous range of delightful snacks that Japan has to offer.

  • Quality of products10
  • Originality10
  • Packaging and delivery10
  • Value for money10
  • Selection of products10

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