Aji WOW: afternoon tea, Japan-style
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: tea and scones.
As you might expect from someone who writes about food every week, there are loads of British dishes I really miss. Toad in the hole. Spag bol. Sunday lunch. Full English breakfasts. Chicken tikka masala. Apple crumble. Anything with proper custard, in fact.
I'm also partial to an afternoon tea set. Had no idea how to find something like that here. Until a fellow Brit suggested somewhere... about 20-25 mins from where I live.
Torrington Tea Room in Osaka is tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood around Uehommachi. I'd never have found it on my own. It sure looks the part, with the kind of smart decor you expect from a Home Counties village farm shop.
Everyone gets their own teapot with matching cup and saucer. You get the cup first, so the waitresses can remember who ordered what. The teapots are beautiful. And - if you look at the price tag on the shelf by the till - alarmingly expensive.
The list of teas is a bit overwhelming, even for England natives. An extra page folded into the menu bumped the options up to at least 30, maybe 35. We debated whether the 'Cholesterol Cleanser' tea would balance out the effects of a scone.
I went for the 'scone set'. The other options involved Welsh cakes or crumpets instead. Both nice, but not what I was there for. Maybe next time.
The set wasn't the complete 'afternoon tea' Brits are familiar with. That's the only thing that lets it down. No mini cakes on a tray. No cucumber, ham or tuna sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
Just a scone on a plate. But what a scone it was. A monster. Served warm, with clotted cream and the 'preserves of the day'. (Those were strawberry-mint and cherry-juniper, by the way. Both amazing.)
Look at it. That scone was soft and chewy and gorgeous. All arguments about whether you put the cream or the jam on first fizzled out immediately. Besides, our parents taught us not to speak with our mouths full.
You get an extra pot of hot water with your teapot, in case you're having trouble washing the scone down. I think I got about 5 cups of tea out of mine. That adds a little value to what's otherwise a well-presented but pretty basic set.
Verdict: 8/10. Bring your own cucumber sarnies and fondant fancies.