I love Tokara. However, most of my friends are really confused by how to actually get wagashi from Tokara. I’ll try and get that squared away today.
Let’s back up a bit. Tokara is a teeny tiny wagashi, or Japanese confectionery, shop in Phinney, in between the zoo and Red Mill Burgers. (Anyone who’s been to Kyoto or Tokyo will say it’s not as good as the stuff in Japan, but it’s by far the best we’ve got out here.) Tokara’s stuff is precious and it is tasty. And if you like delicate desserts, you should try them at least once. However, it can be challenging to find them. There are a few ways to get your hands on Tokara’s wagashi:
- In a cafe. Smacha in Bellevue and Panama Hotel in Seattle, among others, stock Tokara. You need to know when they get deliveries, or they will likely be low – or out. That’s slightly because there are people like me who will buy out the entire stock when their favorite flavors are in. I REGRET NOTHING.(It’s not that hard to buy out the stock. Here’s my buyout bag. I’m pretty sure these were inhaled within 30 minutes of getting home.)
- At an event. Tokara sells at a few events most months, which are posted in the front page of her site around the first of the month. Thing is, many are at the Grand Tsubaki Shrine, which is over in Granite Falls. Most likely you do not want to go to Granite Falls.
- At an open house. Her open houses, or tohryanse (toe-ree-ahn-say), are usually the third Sunday of the month – and what I’m going to cover here.
How to order at an open house
Step 1: When is it?
Go to Tokara’s site and look at the bottom of the front page. Are there dates listed? Those dates will be her events and open houses. Can you make those times? If it’s an open house, it’s usually the third Sunday of the month, with a pickup window from 1-5 pm. (The next one is on June 19th.) You can come by any time during that.
Step 2: Do you want to order?
Go to the Confectionary page and read everything. The tohryanse will be a mixed three-piece set ($12) from what she’s making that month. I aim for liking 50-75% of the items on the Confectionary page before I decide to order.
- Adzuki: Red bean paste. Tasty!
- Shiro-an: White bean paste. A great filling for beginners.
- Mochi: Glutinous rice pounded into chewy, chewy goodness.
Step 3: Order!
So you can make the open house and the menu sounds awesome? It’s time to call! (Yes, call. No email/online forms here.) Let her know these things:
- That you want to pick up a box for the open house
- How many boxes you want (and if you’re bringing your own boxes)
- Whether you’ve been there before
A note: she offers a discount for bringing your own boxes. (Last I checked it was fifty cents.) Her boxes are adorable for offering the wagashi as presents, so your call there.
Step 4: Time to get your order! (And maybe some tea)
On the day of, go to Tokara with cash in hand for the order during the open house time, and get your tasty treats.
Bonus: open houses often have someone serving matcha tea ($7 with wagashi). DO IT. Not only is it cute, Tokara-san often has special wagashi just for the tea ceremony. (It’s not everyone’s thing, so don’t feel pressured to do it.)
Step 5: Rejoice!
Now you have wagashi! Hopefully you love it.