New SF Confectionary Minamoto Kitchoan Offers Sweet Treats


TASTY CONFECTIONS — Minamoto Kitchoan offers Japanese cookies, cakes, sorbets, an assortment of mochi and jelly treats. photos by Vivien Kim Thorp

As pretty as poems, the confections at Minamoto Kitchoan — a new Japanese sweets shop in downtown San Francisco —almost look too good to eat. The pastel paper wrappings make many of the sweets resemble perfect little presents. And the glass cabinets, filled with artfully arranged models of pastries and seasonal fruits and foliage, bring satisfying one’s sweet tooth to a higher level.

Celebrating its grand opening on Sept. 18, Minamoto Kitchoan, located at 648 Market St., offers Japanese cookies, cakes, sorbets, an assortment of mochi, and jelly treats in flavors like white peach and plum wine. It also features seasonal selections, such as the “Suikansyuku,” a fall favorite made with dried persimmons ($45 a box). All of Minamoto Kitchoan’s products, as stated proudly on store signs, are imported directly from Japan.

Manager Chizu Houston says that the “Tsuya” ($3 each), made of sweet red bean paste sandwiched between little pancakes, is one of the most popular items. The “Fukuwatashi Senbei,” crispy butter cookies filled with vanilla cream, have also been a hit with American customers.

“With Japanese customers mochi and the Oribenishiki, made with red beans and chestnuts, are the most popular,” says Houston, who adds that the “Tokoyo,” sugar-coated yuzu slices, are the staff favorite. “You’ll love them!” she says.

James Downs, a San Francisco resident who spent some time perusing the store before making a pick, said “I bought the yuzu jelly because I know I like the flavor from work trips to Japan.” Downs and friend were visiting the store for the first time, drawn to the “Japanese Sweets” sign displayed out front.

Tasty as they are, Minamoto’s treats aren’t cheap. Many of the gift boxes cost more than $40. Still, they come in attractive patterned boxes filled with exquisite, individually wrapped sweets, so there is definite bang for the buck. Customers can also make their own gift box.

The store is owned by Jalux Americas, Inc. The company, which works with Japan Airlines in catering, aircraft parts, and training, also exports American products, such as California fruits and wines, to Japan. A sister store, J. Sweets, is located in the Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose. Minamoto Kitchoan stores are also in Mitsuwa Marketplace stores located in New Jersey Costa Mesa and Torrance, Calif. The store is also located in New York, as well as in Bangkok, London, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. There are three Minamoto Kitchoan’s located in Taipei, and many throughout Japan, including in Tokyo.

Minamoto Kitchoan is at 648 Market St., San Francisco, and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Contact (415) 989-1645 or visit to view some of the company’s sweets online.

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