A year ago during my previous trip to Japan, my cousin gushed to me about Usagi-ya near Okachimachi. "These are the best dorayaki, ever" he'd tell me. He marked the spot in my Tokyo Atlas book for me with a few stars to remind me to stop there, and to pick up about a dozen more for the family if I made it there. A Dorayaki is a dessert sandwich: a small mound of anko (sweet azuki bean paste) sandwiched between two sweet pancakes, the size of a coaster. They're usually served with tea. See photo below. These are pretty widely available in most areas with asian communities, as I'm now finding them at my local chinese and korean groceries/markets around NYC. Hearing my cousin gush about the ones from Usagi-ya, I wondered, how good could they be? It's just anko and pancakes, right? I didn't get around to Usagi-ya last year, so during my recent trip, my cousin went out of his way to grab a boxful while I was around. And boy, was he right. The anko is about the most perfect version of it that I've found. The perfect sweetness and the perfect consistency. Then there's the pancake, which are perfect little pillows (in Japanese it's been described as being fuwa-fuwa -- billowy soft), with just a hint of sweetness. If you get it at the store, they're usually still warm. While Usagi-ya is a wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop, the reason why there's a line out the door is for the dorayaki. In fact, when you get to the counter, you only need to indicate how many you want without even mentioning dorayaki. I suppose if you don't speak Japanese, all you need to do is give a show of fingers for how many and you'll have it all wrapped up and ready to go. They're 135¥ apiece.
There are two branches of Usagi-ya, and my cousin tells me that the original store near Okachimachi/Ueno (across the street from the Matsuzakaya department store) makes the superior product.
Taito-ku, Ueno 1-10-10
Suginami-ku, Asagaya-Kita 1-3-7