Senbei: Best 5 Rice Cracker Shops in Tokyo

Senbei — Japanese rice crackers are very popular snack in Japan. It comes in handy when you want something light and when you have a visitor, it can be a treat with hot green tea. Senbei comes in various shapes and tastes. Let’s look at Best 5 Rice Cracker Shops in Tokyo.

Senbei: Best 5 Rice Cracker Shops in Tokyo

Senbei in glass jars

Senbei (www.daliorieti.com)

Brief History of Senbei

Senbei on the grill

Senbei on the grill (jizoudouri.dip.jp)

We can trace back the same sort of appearance of senbei’s origin in China around 202 BC — 8. Around the 6th century, the confectionery which is made of wheat flour and fried began to be seen in Japan, but it is different from today’s Senbei.

It’s said that grand Buddhist monk Kukai brought back senbei from Tang Dynasty, and taught how to cook to the confectionery in Kyoto. Still, this senbei is different from what we know as today’s senbei in shapes and taste.

The shape and taste of Senbei we know today, we can say its origin is in Soka Senbei. The story goes like this.

There is an old woman Osen who sold dango (rice dumplings) which was very popular at a cafe in Sokashuku (post town in Soka) in the Nikko highway.

One day, a samurai came and suggested her to mash down the dango and bake it, so she did. The new product began to sell like crazy as a convenient and delicious snack for travelers.

1. Raijindo — 雷神堂

Raijindo, simple soy sauce flavored rice cracker

Raijindo, Simple Rice Cracker (tabelog)

Intentionally broken senbei absorb ‘tare’ (soy sauce base condiments) well and that makes it tastes amazing. There are loads of varieties of senbei like spicy flavor, garlic flavor and sesame flavor here in glass cases, you can enjoy different flavor each time. But make sure you always get simple “warisen” when you visit!

Raijindo, Warisen, broken senbei

Raijindo, Warisen (broken senbei) (tabelog)

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d404.8312829597148!2d139.73656518819794!3d35.73481889120405!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x8e730491399e5f65!2z6Zu356We5aCC5bej6bSo5pys5bqX!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1481063103927

2. Iriyama Senbei — 入山煎餅

Senbei, Iriyama Senbei in a bag

Senbei, Iriyama Senbei in a bag (tabelog)

Iriyama Senbei are known for its extra firmness and thickness. Very simple soy sauce flavor. And it’s good.

Senbei, Iriyama Senbei in the making

Senbei, Iriyama Senbei in the making (tabelog)

You can taste subtle sweetness of the rice. Artisans make senbei one by one, its shape is not the same and sometimes distorted, but tastes good.

Senbei, Iriyama Senbei on a plate

Senbei, Iriyama Senbei on a plate (tabelog)

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d809.8953178908156!2d139.79270010928548!3d35.711920502006286!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x93aa7a11650d0f58!2z5YWl5bGx54WO6aSF!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1481063259793

3. Tanuki Senbei — たぬき煎餅

Tanuki Senbei, front view

Tanuki Senbei, front view (tabelog)

Tanuki Senbei is a perveyor to the Imperial Household Agency.Tanuki Senbei have a lot of varieties of senbei, yet what you should get is ‘Jikayaki’. You must expect the price would be little expensive for these ones than others, but it’s worthy.

Senbei, Tanuki Senbei

Senbei, Tanuki Senbei (tabelog)

Jikayaki have four different shapes and flavors. With Genrodanuki, Furudanuki, Odanuki, Kodanuki, you can choose your favorite one.

Senbei, Tanuki Senbei in varieties

Senbei, Tanuki Senbei in varieties (tabelog)

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d810.4600317460925!2d139.73468912032882!3d35.65631035555674!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0xfa411627eb7601e4!2z44Gf44Gs44GN54WO6aSF!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1481063315533

4. Miyako Senbei — 都せんべい

Miyako Senbei, front view

Miyako Senbei, front view (tabelog)

Miyako Senbei is located in downtown, you would feel as if you were trapped back in early Showa era. Senbei are in glass cases and glass jars, you can enjoy pretty much retro modern style of presentation. Simple soy sauce one is good, but sesame one is superb.

Miyako Senbei, Senbei in a round glass jar

Miyako Senbei, Senbei in a round glass jar (tabelog)

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d3238.9531614646367!2d139.76634591522944!3d35.72737043504757!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0xdae9f238857f22c2!2z6YO944Gb44KT44G544GE!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1481063361031

5. Kikumi Senbei Sohoenten — 菊見せんべい総本店

Kikumi Senbei Sohonten, front view

Kikumi Senbei Sohonten, front view (tabelog)

Kikumi Senbei was established in 1875. In the early of Meiji era, the owner began selling unique square senbei for those who visit to enjoy chrysanthemum festival near the shop. Its unique square shaped senbei quickly became popular product.

Kikumi Senbei, Varieties of Senbei in a bag

Kikumi Senbei, Varieties of Senbei in a bag (tabelog)

They use high quality firm rice and soy sauce, simple soy sauce flavor is the most popular senbei here. They also have salty sweet flavored and matcha flavored senbei.

Kikumi Senbei Sohonke, Square Senbei

Kikumi Senbei Sohonke, Square Senbei (tabelog)

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d809.7641238864006!2d139.76342122707672!3d35.724829073936526!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x82d9fa65244cf415!2z6I-K6KaL54WO6aSF57eP5pys5bqX!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1481062977732

Here’s a fun video of one more great Senbei shop in Tokyo — Mirin-do. Someone give me a bag of Senbei with hot green tea, my afternoon could’t be better!

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d809.9290064031379!2d139.8087968338232!3d35.70860513533596!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x1a3a7db2fca4e91e!2z6IWV44Gj44GT44GN44Gu54WO6aSF5bGL44G_44KK44KT5aCC!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1481070350913

Reference

煎餅 (Wikipedia)
 せんべいの歴史 (www.senbeifun.com)

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Originally published at Johnny Times.

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