Worth Waking Up For: Morning Juice Stand
In a small corner of Tenma-cho, nestled in the backstreets of residential houses and local companies, is Morning Juice Stand, run by Akira Kokubo. The perfect walking distance away from my old stomping grounds in Dobashi, I have fond memories of taking a leisurely stroll down to Morning Juice Stand before work with the co-creator of Hiroshima Morning Club for a smoothie and, if we were lucky that day, a fruit sandwich.
Now hold on, you say. A what sandwich?
A fruit sandwich, dear reader, yes. While most expats living in Japan will be familiar with the concept, let me explain for those of you who may not be
It’s literally just what it sounds like: a sandwich filled with, well, fruit, and usually whipped cream. But in the case of Morning Juice Stand, these sandwiches are seasonal, artisanal (can we say homemade chocolate ganache with orange?), and made fresh every day. They’re so immensely popular that patrons will line up around the block just to get their hands on one, many reserving theirs in advance (which I recommend). And to be 100% honest, as a sandwich purist, I was not a fan of fruit sandwiches until I had one from Morning Juice Stand. But more on the sandwich later, because Morning Juice Stand is first and foremost, a purveyor of fine smoothies.
From the old standard, Mr. Morning (a vibrant green smoothie that’s not only good for you but also tastes incredible), to seasonal offerings like the Pink Elephant smoothie I had, full of bright-sweet strawberries, smooth-mellow bananas, creamy yogurt, and a touch of honey, Morning Juice Stand offers a wide variety of different flavor combinations sure to please even the pickiest of eaters, or drinkers in this case. Also with names like White Snake (a pale white cashew nut milk smoothie), how can you go wrong? It’s brilliant, and well worth standing in the inevitable line. The smoothies are all made right in front of you, which gives you time to chat with the friendly owner before heading inside to the small counter to enjoy your beverage indoors, or just head out on your day.
I was the latter, and smoothie and sandwich in hand, I went down to the Tenma-gawa River to stake out a bench. It was a slightly cloudy day, but still nice enough to enjoy a late breakfast outside. The smoothies that Morning Juice Stand makes have a fantastic way of letting the ingredients speak for themselves. They’re not overly sweet, nor do they lack; just the good stuff and nothing more. That philosophy translates over to the fruit sandwiches as well. Today’s offering is an-butter (sweet red bean paste with slices of salty butter — this my one of my all time favorite flavor combinations), chocolate and orange ganache with Oreos, strawberry with custard cream and sour cream, and lastly a mixed fruit sandwich with kiwi, pineapple, and strawberry.
These sandwiches are generous and hefty; you won’t find any wimpy slices of strawberry here, no, you get pretty much the whole juicy thing. The ganache is intense and dark with bright citrus notes from the oranges bursting with every bite. And don’t even get me started on the an-butter because it’s basically the salted caramel of Japan. The combination and balance of each ingredient versus their filling is exquisite, and this is exactly the kind of attention to detail and love of just plain good food that keeps patrons (myself included) coming back.
Morning Juice Stand is also involved in a collaboration event with Obscura Coffee Roasters called Sunday Morning, which pairs coffee and fruit sandwiches together, held every few months. In addition to Sunday Morning, Morning Juice Stand also makes appearances at local festivals, flea markets, music events and more, so definitely check out his Instagram for details and a monthly schedule.
Morning Juice Stand
Address: Citron Tenma 1F, Tenma-cho 9-16, Nishi-ku, Hiroshima City
Hours: Weekdays from 07:30 until sold out, weekends from 09:00 until sold out
Closed Tuesdays and for events, check Instagram for more