Yes, tokugawa leyasu he was a great shogun and all, but we’re here to see (and eat) Tokugawa Piyoyasu.
At approximately 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning, our Japanese-language reporter Kamzezawa’s failure got off the Shinkansen in nagoya station. Why Nagoya? Because he was on his way to meet a samurai who has captivated Japan’s imagination: Tokugawa Piyoyasu..
By now, those of you who are Japanese history buffs are probably scratching your head. Yes, today’s Nagoya more or less corresponds to the seat of power of the most famous lord of the Tokugawa clan. However, his name was tokugawa leyasuand has been dead for over 400 years. So who is this Piyoyasu? It’s chick… and also a dessert..
OK, maybe we should back up a bit. At this time, the Japanese public network NHK is broadcasting a historical TV drama about Tokugawa Ieyasu titled Dou Suru Ieyasu?, which stars former idol singer and Arashi member Jun Matsumoto as a young Ieyasu. So these days Nagoya’s pride in its hometown hero is especially high.
▼ Promotional displays for Dou Suru Ieyasu? at Nagoya station
Aichi is famous for a locally bred breed of chicken called coach. Kochins are prized not only for the flavor of their meat, but also for their eggs as well, which led to the creation of piorinoone of the most popular desserts in Nagoya.
Piyorin’s name is a combination of pee pee pee (the sound of chicks singing in Japanese) and purine, the delicious custard from Japan. piyorin starts with slurry made from kochin eggs, which is then wrapped in vanilla-flavored Bavarian cream and topped with biscuit powder. Lovely to look at, sweet to taste, and humorously named, it covers three things that fans of Japanese sweets love. It has become one of the representative desserts of Nagoya, and with Dou Suru Ieyasu? causing a surge in interest from Ieyasu, the creators of Piyorin have created a special samurai-themed version, Tokugawa Piyoyasu, which in addition to kochin eggs makes use of another special ingredient that Nagoya especially likes.
Because of his smooth and wavy consistency, Piyorin are especially hard to carry, so aside from the rare pop-up shop elsewhere, you have to go to Nagoya to get them. Piyorin’s shop in Nagoya Station opens at 10, and arriving at 11, Ikuna thought that he would beat the crowds of shoppers at lunchtime, buy Tokugawa Piyoyasu, and enjoy them before sunset.
…all the Tokugawa Piyoyasu were already sold at noon, and even the normal Piyorin supply seemed pretty low. While the store replenishes its stock of Piyorin throughout the day, only one batch of Tokugawa Piyoyasu is made per day, so Ikuna missed his chance.
Unless, of course, he stayed overnight in Nagoya and got to the store earlier the next morning, which he did.
However, even arriving at the Piyorin store at 9:15, 45 minutes before it opened, did not make Ikuna the first in line. In fact, about 20 people were already waiting when she arrived..
Thankfully though, being 21st in line was still good enough. Due to his popularity, Tokugawa Piyoyasu’s sales are limited to two per customer, and there were still a few left when Ikuna went up to the register. Not much, though: Ikuna estimates that everyone had left around customer number 30, who arrived about 30 minutes before he opened the store.
As with most specialty sweets in Japan, your Piyorin is placed in a nice, fancy bag, but in this case the benefits go beyond aesthetics.. As we mentioned earlier, Piyorin moves around a lot, and too much jostling during transport can cause the poor chick to collapse in on itself. Fans refer to bringing their Piyorin home while keeping their original form as the “Pyorin Challenge”, so Ikuna was happy to have a bag that visually announced to the people around her “Caution! Piyorin transport in progress here!”
Once back at the SoraNews24 taste testing facility, Ikuna opened her box and was relieved to see that He had successfully completed the challenge!
Watching her happily were two Tokugawa Piyoyasu, backed by a trio of non-samurai Piyorin. The Tokugawa Piyoyasu wore chocolate samurai helmets and the Tokugawa clan crest on the bellyand Ikuna couldn’t resist giving the plate they sat on a little tap to see them shake.
Then it was time to go deeper, and Ikuna found out. Why Tokugawa Piyoyasu Looks Gritty and Speckled: The cake is lightly dusted with miso powder! Specifically, it is made misoa premium, dark-colored miso made in Aichi that’s also showing up on McDonald’s burgers in Japan right now.
Compared to the simply sweet and creamy Piyorin, miso gives Tokugawa Piyoyasu a bit of ripe bitterness and sophisticated complexity. Miso might seem like a bold choice for flavoring a dessert, but between it and the miso ice cream we tried, the hatcho miso now scores two for two in our taste tests, and at 550 yen (US$4.25) apiece. Tokugawa Piyoyasu fills up. Marks in flavor, uniqueness and tenderness.
▼ And the standard Piyorin is also delicious.
Currently, Tokugawa Piyoyasu is scheduled to be on sale only until January 24. With Dou Suru Ieyasu? Until December though, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that this isn’t the last time we see the samurai chicken pudding cake. After all, if Ieyasu was able to find a shogunate that lasted 300 years, surely Tokugawa Piyoyasu won’t fade away forever after just a few weeks, right?