Sushi, ramen, and shabu shabu are among the many iconic foods you'll find in Japan. But in any quest for quality Japanese food, don't forget dessert—or sweet snacks any time of day. Japan has its fair share of traditional confections, and its bakers and other sweets-makers are also looking beyond the borders to make treats that will rival what you might find in Paris and other major Western cities.
I took to the streets of Tokyo (and a little bit beyond) to find some of the best Japanese sweets. Part of the fun of the hunt was seeing the attention to detail paid to preparation, plating, packaging, and overall service. Whether visiting a taiyaki maker on the street or an internationally acclaimed baker with a prestigious place in one of the city's finest department stores, I found myself impressed with the quality paid to every sweet.
Japanese sweets tend to be not too sweet. Savory elements are sometimes integrated. Typical of so much Asian food, texture is an important part of the experience of enjoying Japanese sweets. Many are fairly light, and often they're incredibly delicate. Almost all, to me at least, are delicious. From dango to a sweet potato "sandwich" to a Japanese twist on the croissant, here are eight standout sweets I ate in Tokyo.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.