Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oishii, ooimo

You may remember last fall that I mentioned the Yakiimo man, who is sort of the Japanese autumnal equivalent of the ice cream man. It's basically a guy who sells hot-baked sweet potatoes on the street out of the back of his truck.

Usually, it's around 9 or 10 PM when we hear the strangely ominous noise of the Yakiimo song. It's always some old guy singing in an odd warble, a capella, about how he has many delicious potatoes (oddly enough, each song seems to be unique to the individual seller!). The problem is that we hear the song, but the guy simply drives by our place, and doesn't stop anywhere nearby.

As it happens, a Yakiimo truck went by around 10 PM last night, and actually stopped across from our building! I decide to seize the opportunity, since I've lived in this country for damn near a year and a half but haven't actually had the chance tried the stuff yet.

Here's how it works: the guy's parked in his truck. You signal to him that you want some of his wares, and he gets out. You let him know whether you want a small one (300 yen, about $3.50) or a big one (500 yen, about $6). He pulls one out of his janky-looking grill, wraps it in some newspaper (!), and hands it over.

My reaction? It's pretty tasty! You can pretty much eat it as soon as you buy it, skin and all, and it (predictably enough) is sweet, and has a crumbly but soft texture. If you happen to be in Japan in the fall, I encourage you to give it a shot, but I don't know if I can recommend buying newspaper-wrapped snacks out of the back of some weird old guy's pickup truck in any other context.


  1. There's one in my town, too, but I think he might be a little crazy. I heard the "Yaki IMOooooooo" song he plays/sings as he rolled back my office in May. MAY. This guy is worse than the ice cream man outside the college dorms.

  2. $6 sweet potatoes and $6 bottled water? Sounds
    pretty pricey. What would it cost to attend the
    cherry blossom festival- a million?
    Concerned Parent