Food Adventures: We Try the Official Souvenir Sweet of Tokyo
During my Friday happy hour show with Mike Pettis, we tried what Wikipedia says is the official souvenir sweet of Tokyo. Tokyo Banana. Keep reading to find out what we thought of this Japanese sweet treat.
I came into a box of Tokyo Bananas thanks to my friend Angie. We met in high school while at the vending machines during a Spanish immersion weekend our high schools sent us on. She parlayed her love of language, culture, and adventure into owning her own antique store in Bangkok, Thailand.
Despite her world travels and settling in Thailand and my journey, to loosely quote WKRP in Cincinnati's theme song, "Town to town up and down the dial" we've managed more often than not to get together when her adventures bring her to Chicago. During our latest get-together, she gifted Kathy and me a box of Tokyo Banana.
Angie explained to me that in Japan, it's the custom when you visit someone to bring a gift. And Tokyo Banana is a popular gift to give the person you're visiting.
Not being a big fan of banana-flavored treats, Kathy was kind of enough to let me take the box of treats to work and share them with my co-workers. So, on Friday during our show, Mike and I asked Awesome 92-3 Morning Host Behka, along with Lori and Bill from our sales department to join us in trying this Japanese sweet treat on the radio.
Tokyo Bananas are packaged very nicely. Perfectly appropriate to gift someone whose home you might be visiting. All wrapped up Mike said they kind of look like a package of copy paper. In fact, on the counter where Angie had them, I actually thought it was paper until she gave me a box for Kathy and me to enjoy. Bill said it looked like the nicest thing he had ever given someone for Christmas.
We carefully opened the wrapping which exposed a handsome white box that included the Tokyo Banana name and logo on the box. Bill said the box looked like a fancy underwear box, but at this point most of us were busy looking at the Tokyo Bananas in the box.
They come individually wrapped, and there's an un-edible freshness pack with each Tokyo Banana. What amazed us all was how soft and spongy the cake was. It was really unlike any kind of snack cake you can get here in America.
The cakes themselves are smaller than a Twinkie, shaped like a banana, and are filled with a banana cream filling. Here are our reactions as we tried them:
Mike had a two-word review, "That's good." Bill thought the sponge cake was weird but really thought the filling tasted like banana pudding. He then followed up by saying that the filling "tasted like a smooshed banana." Lori said it tasted like "real banana" and "Once the cream took over the cake it was very good."
It was at this point Behka said she was dreading trying the cake, because she really doesn't like banana flavored stuff, but she tried it anyway. She thought the "Cake was nice, but the rest of it was regrettable." And the expression on her face was priceless.
My review was one word, "Delicious."
When it was all said and done everyone except Behka enjoyed their Tokyo Banana, and the filling and freshness of the snack cake got rave reviews.
According to the Wikipedia page on Tokyo Banana, the filling is a banana custard cream that uses strained banana puree, and the sponge cake's soft texture is achieved by steaming the sponge cake.
Click below to hear us try them on the radio: