Shinise (XVIII): Matsuokaken

Shinise (XVIII): Matsuokaken

Fukui City, the capital city of Fukui Prefecture, is located in the northern part of Fukui. It serves as the central hub for the Echizen region (formerly known as Echizen Province). During the Edo period, it thrived as a major castle town under the rule of the Fukui Domain. The city boasts various notable landmarks and historical sites, including Echizen Cape, famous for its daffodils; Awara River, renowned for its cherry blossoms; Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins; Fukui Castle Ruins (now housing the prefectural government office); and Kitanosho Castle Ruins.

Fukui City has a thriving textile industry, with recent growth in the chemical industry as well. It is known for its traditional crafts such as Echizen Warousoku (Japanese candles) and Erousoku (candle decorated with pictures). The city takes pride in its local specialties and delicacies, including Echizen Crab, Echizen Oroshi Soba (buckwheat noodles), Habutae Mochi (twice-steamed rice cakes), and Yogan. To complement this, Fukui City is home to numerous long-standing restaurants, Japanese confectionery shops, and food stores.

Matsuokaken——Founded in 1897


Matsuokaken's original shop is located approximately a 13-minute walk from Fukui Station and conveniently just a 1-minute walk from the Katamachi Entrance bus stop. The confectionery store was established in 1897 by Awashima Tsune and has since gained a well-deserved reputation in the industry.

During the Keicho era, the Fukui Domain was renowned for its thriving production of Hoshogumi Tsumugi, a type of silk fabric. The first-generation owner of Matsuokaken operated a textile shop specializing in Hoshogumi Tsumugi. However, Awashima Tsune, the successor, made the brave decision to step away from the unpredictable textile industry.

After completing ten years of training in Tokyo, he opened "Matsuokaken" as a traditional Japanese confectionery shop, carrying on his family's legacy. Awashima Tsune aimed to pay homage to Fukui's famous specialty silk fabric, Habutae. With relentless experimentation, he sought to recreate the smooth texture of Habutae in their confections, resulting in the creation of Habutae Mochi.

Introduced in 1905, Habutae Mochi quickly gained nationwide fame and is now hailed as a representative local delicacy of Fukui. As the signature item at Matsuokaken, Habutae Mochi is made primarily from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and glucose syrup. The main ingredient, glutinous rice flour, combines Kameoka-grown mochi rice from Tamba, Kyoto, known for its significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, with locally produced mochiko (rice flour) from Fukui Prefecture, renowned for its rice cultivation. The mochi rice from Tamba, with its robust and chewy texture, contributes to the unique and delicate mouthfeel of Habutae Mochi.

Achieving the perfect balance of these ingredients is crucial to attain its delicate smoothness. The standout feature of Habutae Mochi is its "light and delicate texture," which is the result of a carefully devised blend developed by the founder. 

Through meticulous ingredient selection and the skillful craftsmanship of artisans, Habutae Mochi not only melts in the mouth but also delights the senses with the fragrance and sweetness of rice. With each bite, one can savor the gentle melt-in-mouth sensation and subtle sweetness of mochi rice — an absolute delight among rice-based confections.

Matsuokaken also offers delectable desserts that incorporate mochi as the star ingredient. These include Habutae Monaka and Habutae Dorayaki.

Habutae Monaka is a traditional Japanese sweet consisting of a crispy toasted shell filled with lightly sweetened smooth red bean paste and silky mochi. When taking a bite, one can enjoy the delightful aroma of the crispy mochi shell, which harmonizes perfectly with the velvety-smooth Habutae Mochi and the rich flavor of the red bean paste.

On the other hand, Habutae Dorayaki features a fluffy pancake-like outer layer generously filled with red bean paste made from Hokkaido-grown azuki beans. The twist lies in the addition of Habutae Mochi, layered within the dorayaki. Unlike regular dorayaki, the texture of Habutae Mochi lingers on the tongue until the last bite, imparting a gentle and delightful flavor.

Address: 3-5-19 Chuo, Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture

photo from: 松岡軒 8/23/2023

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