Around autumn-time in Japan is when the yaki imo, or roasted sweet potato, trucks start to ply the residential areas, as the drivers playing an eerie recording trying to either tempt or frighten human hunger pangs. (Video thanks to DeasTube) Sure, you’ve got the beautiful fall foliage, chestnut acolytes and a gradual decrease in purgatorial temperatures and their accompanying humidity, but none of those things reminds me more that I’m in Tokyo than those mystifying lorries.
Except that, I haven’t always had the great luck in finding them. My interminable walks normally took me through the commercial and/or high-rise districts, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Ginza, and Shimbashi (for some reason; well they did have cheap eats), but I have an inkling that heading towards Nezu/Asakusa/Yanaka/even Akasaka would’ve been better ideas to pinpoint the truck’s location. Pshaah, as gratifying as that adventure may be, I accidentally ran into one of my favorite Japanese foods at a supermarket in Azabu-Juuban – the college potato.
Daigaku imo, or university/college potato, became an instant staple food for me while studying abroad. Fried and coated with black sesame seeds and sugar, although they may have been popularized at fall 祭 (matsuri festivals) held at colleges in Japan as a cheap snack, they do begrudgingly remind me of dangerously tasty northern Chinese desserts that you’d dip in water to cool off. (Links thanks to Tokyo Terrace and google). A nightmare for your teeth, particularly if the sugar is extra sticky and the seeds are extra…present, and for those that care, a bit of a texture scrum as well. Has anyone found this outside of Japan? I haven’t yet, but there is a small consolation that deserves mention–
Although it says satsuma imo, sweet potato/yam flavor, the description mentions that it has a hint of black sesame as well, not to mention, look at the photo! They were quite alright, and much more lenient on the incisors, but the last time I saw them was in 2006. Advo asks, have you spotted them?