Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade

This year my Valentine’s Day sweet was sweet potato shochu filled chocolate ganache!

Regular readers of KyotoFoodie may recall that I was given some delightful fruit vinegar bonbons last Valentine’s Day from Takashimaya. I don’t have a valentine this year so I bought my own. I was encouraged to skip Takashimaya’s Valentine’s Day chocolate exhibition and instead visit the other major Kyoto department store, just down the street: Daimaru.

Daimaru’s Chocolat Promenade certainly has a nice ring to it but I was a little underwhelmed by the exhibition overall, but there were a number interesting chocolates from abroad and from Japan. There were lots of green tea chocolates from Kyoto tea companies. (Kyoto is one of the two main tea producing regions in Japan.)

Nama Choco, literally ‘raw chocolate’, has been all the rage for some years in Japan now. Nama choco is ganache. If you are at all into sweets and chocolate, I highly recommend that you try some while in Japan. The maccha (powdered green tea) is probably the most novel, and the most popular with Japanese. I can’t think of a Western chocolate that can top nama choco. I decided to go for something a little un-Kyoto and exotic.

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Isami Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache - Package

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Isami Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache - Explanation

Have you heard of imo-jochu?
This is shochu 焼酎, the traditional distilled alcoholic beverage of Japan. It is most popular in southern Japan where it is too warm to make proper sake. Shochu is usually made from barley, rice or sweet potato. It can also be made from buckwheat soba, brown sugar and even chestnuts!

Sweet potato shochu is called imo-jochu in Japanese (imo means potato). It has a very distinctive fragrance and taste. People either love it or hate it. Most Japanese women can’t stand imo-jochu. I must admit, I didn’t like it for a long time. I like it now, especially on winter nights mixed with hot water.

I found an imo-jochu nama choco (ganache) from a distillery in Kyushu that intrigued me. While I had a nibble of the samples offered, I noticed they had one perfectly sliced in half. It was a soft ball of ganache filled with a fruity, transparent imo-jochu jelly. Imo-jochu is very fragrant and it suspected that it would set off the nama choco very nicely. So, that was my valentine’s day present this year!

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Isami Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Isami Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache

How Did Imo-jochu Nama Choco Taste?
Overall it tasted quite good but I don’t think that it was quite ‘on concept’. Imo-jochu is by nature, not delicate, it packs an aromatic punch, in addition to the alcohol punch of 25% alcohol. However, this lacked any punch.

The nama choco was wonderful, it had all that fragrant chocolaty, creamy goodness of ganache but the filling was a little disappointing. Its not that it didn’t taste good, it did. It was quite sweet and fruity but it just didn’t taste much of imo-jochu. If I am going to eat a imo-jochu flavored chocolate, I insist that is not just taste good but also taste like imo-jochu! It should have some alcohol zing to it too. I want to taste what I am eating.

It occurs to me that while in development it was decided to tone down the distinctive imo-jochu taste which many people, especially women take offense to. I think there is no danger in making a high-powered imo-jochu taste as this nama choco will most likely be purchased for men, and for men that really like imo-jochu. I highly doubt that someone who doesn’t care for imo-jochu is going to get this as a gift. So, imo it up!

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Isami Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache - Shochu Jelly Filling

Kyoto Daimaru’s Valentine Chocolat Promenade 2010
Here are a few snapshots of ‘Chocolat Promenade’ which was held from January 27th to February 14, 2010. One hundred and twelve vendors from both Japan and overseas participated. Most of the major European chocolatiers were represented.

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade: Maccha Green Tea and Ganache

Imo Jochu Nama Choco Ganache at Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade Exhibition 伊佐美 生チョコ

Kyoto Daimaru Department Store Valentine Chocolat Promenade: Kyoto's New Love - Yuzu and Ganache

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