Taneya: A love letter to mochi in all its wondrous forms

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Contributing Writer

Taneya, literally “seed house,” has history. Its first confectionery dates back to the Meiji Era in 1872, when the company was founded in Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture. Much of the rice that goes into making their famous mochi, or sticky rice cakes, comes from the rice fields around Omihachiman.

However, you don’t have to go that far to try Taneya’s mochi, or indeed any of their other dainty Japanese sweets, as they have shops and cafes scattered across Japan.

If you’re in Umeda and in need of an escape from the crowds, head for Taneya’s shop at the back of the cavernous confectionery hall in the Hankyu department store. Just next to the shop they have an elegant and petit cafe with seating for about a dozen.

The menu is an ode to mochi: the bijou cakes come covered in sweet pumpkin paste, with chestnut paste, and azuki (red bean) paste. If you want to take the sweetness up a notch further, try the seasonal chestnut parfait, which folds cream into mounds of mochi and gelatinous cubes made from rice.

It was a more daring, and far less sweet, configuration I opted for: a neat row of mochi cakes on crackers delivered with a tiny bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and a soy sauce-flavored mousse that’s more miss than hit. The mochi and olive oil combination works, although you may feel you’re missing out on the sweet treats. No one, however, misses out on the mochi pounding, which takes place seven times daily just a few feet from your table.

Dessert sets from ¥540; Japanese menu

In line with the nationwide state of emergency declared on April 16, the government is strongly requesting that residents stay at home whenever possible and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.
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