Lovers of sweets should make a beeline for Mihashi in Ueno for their Japanese-style desserts. Come for the anmitsu, stay for the red bean paste and soft serve ice cream!
Chestnut anmitsu with soft serve ice cream - a seasonal special. - image © Florentyna Leow
Mihashi is an old-school sweets parlour famous for their anmitsu, a Japanese dessert of agar jelly, red bean paste, and fruits. The “an” refers to red bean paste, and the “mitsu” refers to the syrup that’s poured over the jelly cubes. The addition of ice cream is a relatively modern innovation, and when it’s served thusly it’s called cream anmitsu.
They have a few branches around Tokyo, including one in Ueno Station, but the one next to Yodobashi Camera is the original branch. Mihashi Honten is quite busy and popular, so you could visit the other branches. If you do want to visit the original branch, come on a rainy day or off-peak hours on weekdays and you’ll find that you won’t have to wait too long. My friend and I were seated within 10 minutes.
The entrance to Mihashi - people are willing to make the trek here even on a rainy day. - image © Florentyna Leow
The shop is a stone’s throw from Ueno Park, Ameyoko-cho, and Ueno Station, and is a minute’s walk from Ikenohata Exit. Instead of heading to Ameyoko-cho, walk along the main road, past Yodobashi Camera, until you find the entrance above.
An English menu with photographs makes ordering easy. - image © Florentyna Leow
Their menu consists largely of variations on anmitsu and red bean-based desserts such as zenzai (hot red bean soup) and kuzumochi (kudzu starch dumpling). Mihashi is primarily a dessert shop, but there are a few savory options on the menu. One is an oden and tea rice set, and the other is ozoni - grilled mochi dumplings in a clear dashi broth.
Plastic food displays in the case outside give you an idea of what to expect. - image © Florentyna Leow
I was here as part of a personal quest to eat and enjoy more Japanese-style desserts. Even though I lived in Kyoto for several years, I still don’t love adzuki beans very much, which eliminates most Japanese desserts for me - but I’ll try almost anything in the name of research.
Autumn-only specials on laminated menu cards on the table. - image © Florentyna Leow
It’s autumn, which means chestnuts and pumpkins. The latter is a concession to Halloween, an imported but increasingly popular celebration in Japan. How could I resist ordering a seasonal dessert? I went with the chestnut anmitsu.
My friend ordered the awa-zenzai, listed on the English menu as "Red bean soup with rice cake-ish." It turned out to be millet. - image © Florentyna Leow
I wasn’t expecting that much from Mihashi, but I was pleasantly surprised by the red bean paste. It was incredibly smooth and intensely-flavored, with a pleasing density. You could tell that they’d used quality beans. It was still too sweet for me, but red bean lovers will enjoy this - my friend who came with me certainly did. They’d included two different kinds of chestnuts, cooked till just tender. The agar jelly cubes at the bottom were as expected - it’s jelly - and I found that there was just too much syrup at the bottom.
A close-up of the various textures - ice cream, translucent jelly cubes, whole beans, red bean paste, smooth chestnut, a tart slice of mikan orange. - image © Florentyna Leow
Ah, but this soft serve stole my heart. It tasted closer to a gelato than the airier soft serve ice creams you commonly find in Japan. The amount of air that’s churned into ice cream plays a big role in the resulting texture - that’s why some cheaper ice creams taste so airy and unfulfilling - and Mihashi’s soft serve was gorgeously dense, with a low overrun. It was utterly bewitching and I instantly understood why there were queues for Mihashi, even in the pouring rain.
You can also pick up dessert to go! - image © Florentyna Leow
I would just come to Mihashi for the soft serve ice cream. Or a matcha float - that’s whipped powdered green tea with a heap of that bewitching soft serve. Can you imagine a more perfect marriage of Japanese and Western flavors?
Mihashi Ueno Honten
Name in Japanese:
4-9-7 Ueno, Taito Ward, Tokyo
10:30AM - 9:30PM
Ueno Station (JR, Metro)
:: Read customer reviews of Mihashi on TripAdvisor
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