Made from sticky rice flour, dango is an iconic Japanese sweet that gets the thumbs up from me. Available in an inspiring array of varieties, dango is a cheap and satisfying taste trip down street snack value lane.
A chain store, Dango Kazoku Koshigaya's full name is Taka Chain Wa Sweets Dango Kazoku. A bit of a mouthful, to be sure, but one not as tasty as what they serve. Besides the dango on offer, you'll also find sushi rolls, red azuki rice, takoyaki, onigiri rice balls, and even bento lunch boxes. Along with the dango, everything here has a homemade local feel to it.
Generally served with 3-5 balls per skewer, dango is coated with various seasonings and sauces. Dango coated with red bean paste is known as an-dango, but I'm a big fan of earthy flavours, so goma dango coated with sesame paste and kinako dango coated with roasted soy bean, tend to get my vote. A new variety that I hadn't considered before was zunda dango - with a coating of smashed edamame beans giving it a decidedly light and refreshing taste, this dango is a winner.
The prices are a dream for any budget conscious visitor. No joke, but you are looking at around JPY30-60 per skewer. This is simply unbelievable value, and utterly puts paid to the notion that Japan is 'expensive'. Even more remarkable is that you are not missing out on quality. We went back a couple of times during our trip and never regretted it for a moment.
Far removed from the blare of brand name tourist sites, the local feel of stores like Dango Kazoku really brings home a fresh sense of Japan, one that gets the thumbs up for any visitor looking for a down-to-earth new experience.