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Monday, August 22, 2016

Dandelion Chocolate Japan in Kuramae Tokyo: transforming the neighborhood

ダンデライオン・チョコレート・ジャパン 蔵前

Dandelion Chocolate is a boutique chocolate confectionery that began life in San Francisco in 2010. In February 2016, it opened a store - a factory with cafe - in the Kuramae district of Taito ward, Tokyo, just north of the Asakusabashi district.

Counter at Dandelion Chocolate Japan cafe in Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
Counter at Dandelion Chocolate Japan, Kuramae, Tokyo, Japan

The "small batch bean-to-bar" Dandelion Chocolate factory in Kuramae incorporates a very popular cafe. It is one of the many small, trendy establishments that have been transforming Kuramae over the past couple of years from a nondescript wholesale commercial area into one gaining a reputation for good taste in terms of food, drink and lifestyle-related.

We stopped in at Dandelion Chocolate Kuramae today for a little mid-afternoon refreshment. The light plain wood and glass facade of Dandelion Chocolate is welcoming, and the spacious wood-themed interior extends the welcome further, all the way up to the second floor seating area.

Sunday afternoon at Dandelion Chocolate Japan cafe in Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
Ordering and waiting for order delivery at Dandelion Chocolate Japan, Kuramae, Tokyo

It was 3.30 pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon and Dandelion Chocolate Kuramae had a steady stream of customers. However busy the store gets, the spaciousness - particularly the height - of the premises keeps things subdued. We ordered a House Hot Chocolate, an Ecuador Cold Brew and a Dandelion Chocolate Chip Cookie (1,500 yen all up) and waited by the bookshelves while our order was being prepared, browsing some of the chocolate-related exhibits and things on sale there, like books, mugs, and notebooks.

In a couple of minutes we were upstairs seated around a bottomless glass-topped table that provided a view of the floor below.

The House Hot Chocolate was just the right temperature - not scalding, nice and creamy on top, very real-tasting (pretty sweet, however), and over all too quickly! I could easily have reordered twice if I'd had the time and money. You'd almost swear the Ecuador Cold Brew was coffee - or at least a blend of chocolate and coffee  - if you didn't know better. The initial impression was one of bitterness, but by a third of the way in it had won us well and truly over with its rich, mature, liqueur-like depth.

View of downstairs through glass table, Dandelion Chocolate Japan, Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
Dandelion Chocolate Japan, Kuramae, Tokyo

The Dandelion Chocolate Chip cookie was the epitome of gooey nostalgia: an unabashedly lavish, buttery, chocolate treat like the best childhood memories are made of. I could easily have reordered twice if I wasn't worried about my waistline.

The jar of marshmallows you can help yourself from when served your tray is a nice extra.

Upstairs at the Dandelion Chocolate Japan in Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
Upstairs at Dandelion Chocolate Japan, Kuramae, Tokyo

Dandelion Chocolate in Kuramae serves alcohol, as well. If I wasn't still feeling the effects of Saturday night, a glass of wine would have been nice, too. Next time, we'll try what is actually their main product - the famed "bean-to-bar" chocolate, stacked on the counter - as well. It's not cheap, though, at 1,200 yen for about a 60 gram bar.

The crowd was upbeat and chatty. The sunny, airy atmosphere - with ample windows and skylights - was both relaxing and invigorating, looking out on the greenery of the small park across just the road. It is the ideal place for getting together with friends or special others - or even retreating to alone for a spell.

Entrance to Dandelion Chocolate Japan in Kuramae, Taito ward, Tokyo.
Entrance to Dandelion Chocolate Japan, Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo.

Dandelion Chocolate Kuramae is open 10am - 8pm (last order 7.30pm) every day of the week.

Dandelion Chocolate Kuramae is a 3 minute walk from from Exit A1 (an elevator exit) of Kuramae Station on the Asakusa Subway Line. Turn right out of the exit, then take the next turn right after a few paces onto the main road. Take the pedestrian crossing all the way to the other side of the road (the road forks into two at this point, so you are actually crossing two roads). Go one block and take the first road to your right. Go straight about 80 meters. Dandelion Chocolate Kuramae is on your right, halfway along the second block, right across from Seika Park.

Dandelion Chocolate Japan
4-14-6 Kuramae, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan 111-0051
Tel. 03 5833 7270
10am - 8pm every day.

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