Opened in 1865, Mamegen, has been around for over 150 years. It all started in the Edo period, when Japan was still ruled by Samurai (the warrior class), by a Samurai-turned-Merchant Genbei Surugaya. He started to sell beans and nuts snacks to the people of Edo (Old Tokyo) as a street vendor, and it has been a true local favorite since then. At their store, you will find a picture of Mamegen in the streets of Edo as a popular snack shop.
They now have over 60 selections of various nuts and beans snacks, but their most famous is the “Otoboke Mame.” They are peanuts covered in rice cracker, with three different flavors, Ao Nori (green seaweed flakes), Nori (Dried seaweed), and Shrimp. It is said if you eat all three flavors at once it becomes a Otoboke – “silly” taste, thus the name, Otoboke Mame. Whether you try three different flavors at once or not, the crispy outer layer of the rice cracker and the crunchy flavorful beans inside make great harmony in the mouth.
The roasting methods have mostly stayed the same as the Edo period, but they are continuously evolving and creating different flavors that meet the modern age.
For example, a new favorite nowadays is Mozzarella flavor, which is perfect when coupled with wine. You can enjoy various flavors – sweet, spicy, savory – it’s all there! Some of my favorite are Curry, Wasabi, Cocoa, and Matcha.
They also sell rice crackers and deep-fried mochi rice cakes called Okaki. To this day they actually make it right at the store, so you can watch them fry the Okakis. They sometimes have some offerings for you to try, so don’t hesitate to try the Okakis fried on the spot!
You will be amazed at the variations of flavors and the colorful nuts displayed at the store. If you want to try different flavors, they also have a smaller size called Mame Chiyo, which is 2/3 the original size. All of the treats are sold by the bag, and you can either buy the bags individually or buy your choice of treats and box them as a special gift, so it’s great for souvenirs. Why not bring home with you an old taste of Tokyo to your friends?