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Japanese Egg Custard Cakes? Buns? Imagawayaki!

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While we were staying in Nakano-ku in Tokyo, we used the JR line everyday to get where we were going from our apartment just south of the station. One evening, we went out the north exit of the station to look around for food. Across the bus plaza from the station exit, just to the right of the entrance to the mall that connects the station to Nakano Broadway, we found a small stand making these:


The outside was crisp and slightly browned; the dough was eggy and tender; inside was a warm, delicious vanilla custard. We four ate eight standing there on the sidewalk: dinner problem solved.

We went back several times but never quite caught them at the perfect moment again, just as they come off the cast iron molds. Once they've sat a bit, they're still wonderful, but they lose that textural complexity as the exterior softens and the dough toughens slightly. We also had a few other styles, but the custard one was our favorite. (They stamp the finished bun with a hot iron, hence the black marking -- a tasty, slightly bitter counterpoint to the bun itself, I'll add.)

So I'm interested to try to make them at home. First, I need to know what they are called. Here's the flyer for the stall:


Can anyone lend a hand by identifying them? Even better, can you point to a recipe?

Chris Amirault

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It's called imagawayaki.

I found a website describing the shop, Oyaki Dokoro Refu-Tei:


Imagawayaki entry in the Wikipedia:


Recipe... Just do a google search for imagawayaki recipe.

You can use premade pancake mix, as described here in Japanese:


Good luck!

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Then search for taiyaki recipes instead. You will get some ideas for making imagawayaki.

By the way, imagawayaki was called kobanyaki in the specific area in Tokyo where I grew up.

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I am also a fan of imagawayaki, although I use a taiyaki mold (nostalgic- we ate these as children in Japan). If you don't have a mold, you can just make dora-yaki. I like Shizuo Tsuji's recipe from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. Beat 3 eggs, and then beat in 2/3 c sugar and 1 T light corn syrup until whitish and stringy. Stir in 1 1/2 c all purpose flour in several additions. Mix in 1 t b. powder and stir in 2/3 c water in several additions and beat until batter is smooth. I quite enjoy this filled with tsubushi-an (sweet red beans), but pastry cream is delicious as well. Cooking with Dog has a similar recipe and shows the technique and another variation on the filling (beans with whipped cream). http://www.youtube.com/user/cookingwithdog#p/u/8/11rMEA0_L8c Good luck (ganbatte kudasai)!

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