All About Japan

A Christmas Cake Made Out of... What?!

Christmas B-Class Gourmet Tokyo

In Japan, you can’t celebrate Christmas without a cake, but it seems almost every Christmas party here features the exact same “Christmas cake,” which is basically a strawberry shortcake. So if you’ve also got a beef with the standard cake, maybe you’d prefer one that’s made out of chicken!

In the Otemachi neighborhood of Tokyo, Zenyaren restaurant is always looking to push the envelope of yakitori (chicken skewers) until it clucks. Crowned with strawberries and a marzipan Santa, Zenyaren's Christmas cake doesn’t look any different from the shortcakes you can find at hundreds of other restaurants across Tokyo.

But slice into the top of the cake, and you might notice it feels just a bit too firm for whipped cream. Cut a little deeper, and inside you’ll notice that instead of the snow-white sponge you expected, the cake has a brown hue.

That’s because instead of being made out of cream and sponge, this cake is actually made out of mashed potatoes and chicken. Specifically, it uses tsukune, ground chicken that’s usually wrapped around skewers, grilled, and slathered with sauce.

While most bakeries will let you reserve a Christmas cake, and many companies will also deliver them to your home, Zenyaren’s ¥2,200 tsukune cake is only available for customers at the restaurant. However, if your fellow diners aren’t up for the culinary adventure, you can also get a one-eighth size slice for ¥300. Don’t forget to sprinkle on the Cayenne pepper!

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