Treat Yourself: A Food-tastic Day at AEON Mall Hiroshima Fuchu!

This post is sponsored by AEON Mall Hiroshima Fuchu. All opinions expressed in this post are based on the personal views of the author.

Dear readers, the new era is here, and I have decided that Reiwa is the era to treat yourself.

I was once given some very sage advice, and that advice was 変にケチるな (hen ni kechiru-na) which basically means don’t be stingy about the things you don’t have to be stingy about. Because not only am I a snob, I’m also a stinge (is that a word? It is now). But even a stinge likes to treat herself every once in awhile, and today I’m taking you on a food-tastic adventure to AEON Mall in Hiroshima Fuchu that’s guaranteed to fill you up without emptying your wallet.

AEON Hiroshima Mall Fuchu is nice in that, although just a one-station hop from Hiroshima Station or 10-minute shuttle bus ride, it’s just far enough away to merit spending all day there. My first stop? Lunch.

To be fair, there is a massive array of places to eat. Everything from Japanese food to Western food: pasta and sushi and bubble tea and beyond. I mean, you’ll probably work up an appetite just wandering the spacious food courts and restaurants. But when I happened upon Hatake-no-Pasta, I knew I had a winner.

Loosely translated to mean Vegetable Garden Pasta, Hatake-no-Pasta prides itself on Italian cooking with fresh, seasonal vegetables. With a variety of pasta-favorites like creamy carbonara and wa-fū mentaiko, as well as seasonal pizzas and dorias to choose from, I decided to go with their specialty, the Vegetable Garden All-Stars Peperoncino, topped with 10 (!!) different seasonal vegetables. But wait, there’s more. It comes with unlimited use of their salad bar (home to over 15 different varieties of vegetables and toppings), bread, green smoothie, and soup. Now that’s what I call value for money.

Happily crunching away at my salad and sipping their hearty vegetable minestrone, my pasta arrived looking like the herald of spring with gorgeous light green chicory, bright red tomatoes, and…pink spaghetti? Upon further investigation, the cause of the sakura-colored spaghetti would appear to be beet slices that had also turned the onions into a nice shade of pink as well. So what exactly was in my pasta? Spring cabbage and new potatoes, snap peas, burdock root, new onions, tomato, beets, chicory, mitsuba, romaine lettuce, and arugula, that’s what. And while it may look more like a salad than pasta, there was actually a surprising amount of spaghetti hidden beneath. The sauce was light with just a hint of garlic and anchovy, which let the flavors of the vegetables shine without being overpowered. It’s the perfect way to get your daily recommended dose of vegetables all in one sitting, so you can eat all the dessert you want later to balance it out (because that’s how food works. Trust me, I’m an expert).

Bidding farewell to the Vegetable Garden, I set out to get some shopping done. For those of you who’ve never been to AEON Mall Fuchu, let me just say this: it’s monstrously big. Like…American mall-sized big. So it requires a fair amount of walking, especially if you’re like me and tend to walk in the opposite direction of where you’re trying to go. After a few hours of walk, backtrack, repeat, a well-deserved coffee break was in order, and Hoshino Coffee, with its old school charms, seemed just the ticket.

I had actually not-so-secretly been wanting to visit Hoshino Coffee since it opened because the aesthetics are on point, from the logo on the coffee mugs to the three tiny stars on the saucer, the 1920s Gatsby interior vibes and Ella Fitzgerald coming through the speakers… the whole place is very much what I would like my flat to look like. And of course, the pancakes. In the past, I have criticized and even shamed people for fawning over pancakes but…I’m going to go ahead and be “that girl” for a second because the pancakes they serve here are as fluffy as they are tall, and, while they may take 20 minutes to make, it’s worth the wait.

So sit back with your hand dripped coffee and listen to the smooth sounds of Ms. Fitzgerald awhile because when those freshly made pancakes arrive, you won’t be able to focus on anything else. Simply put, they’re glorious. Topped with a tuft of whipped butter and a big ol’ jug of maple syrup (good on them), these tender cakes transcend the boundary between pancake and cake, falling somewhere sweetly in between. I’m convinced that the phrase “melt in your mouth” could have been created with these pancakes in mind. Added bonus: they’re highly Instagramable.

With the kind of pep in your step that only caffeine and sugar can provide, I set out once again with the intention of not eating until dinner time…that is, until I happened across a certain collaboration shop that’s practically an endangered species. Perhaps some of you remember the hubbub raised back in 2010 when the first ever Mister Donut and MOS Burger collaboration cafe MOSDO opened its doors. It remains in Hiroshima today, with only one other shop in existence (at Kansai International Airport). Can you blame me for stopping? Sure. But can you shame me for stopping? Never. Mark my words, I will never, ever be too snobby for Mister Donut or MOS.

Good things come in pairs so I decided on a choko-fasshon (an old-fashioned with a splash of chocolate), a standard glazed pon-de-ring donut, and the only-available-at-MOSDO seafood okonomiyaki rice burger, with a side of MOS’ signature MOS burger (don’t judge me). I got the donuts and the MOS burger to-go, but I couldn’t resist trying the okonomiyaki rice burger, a crispy fried seafood kakiage topped with shredded cabbage, okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, and katsuo-bushi dried bonito fish flakes, all sandwiched between two patty-shaped grilled-onigiri-esque “buns”.

It’s carbohydrate heaven accented by zingy bits of pickled ginger, and definitely a modern take on okonomiyaki. There is just something so satisfying about eating okonomiyaki like a burger — it’s whimsical and fun, and I can appreciate that. I may have accidentally taken a few bites of those donuts I was saving for later too…but who can resist a chewy-sweet pon-de-ring or a moist and crumbly old-fashioned? Certainly not me.

After that, I promise I was good until dinner, diligently walking up and down the mall, window-shopping and people-watching before getting down to the serious business of choosing my final destination on this food-venture. I decided to head to the food court, a massive hub of good eats that I only skimmed during lunch, when the perfect ending to a food-tastic day appeared.

Ebi-no-ya is a tempura shop that specializes in ten-don, a rice bowl topped with tempura that they fry before your eyes.

Now I say “topped”, but in the case of Ebi-no-ya, it’s piled HIGH. So high, in fact, it needs the lid of the donburi (rice bowl) to support it, like a veritable tower-of-tempura. So naturally, I picked the most extra, most tempura-topped ten-don possible, the Anago Ten-don, or as I like to call it, the Anago Ten-don Tower of Terror for the sheer size of the anago (that’s saltwater eel) tempura. It’s so big, it absolutely dwarfs the impressive piece of fried shrimp stacked next to it. Add in some squid, soft-boiled egg, white fish, lotus root, and kabocha squash tempura, plus a little yuzu citrus peel for aromatic effect, and you’ve got the perfect storm of ten-don. Crispy and crunchy without being too oily and dripping with a sweet soy sauce-based tare sauce all over fluffy steamed rice… happiness, thy name is ten-don. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s not only reasonably priced; it’s a STEAL. It’s so massive I can hardly fit it all in the frame of my camera. That’s the girl for me.

Now after a satisfying meal like that, I was ready to call it a day. But that doesn’t mean I can’t grab a little dessert from Beard Papa’s for the road. Stuffed with thick, luscious custard immediately after purchase, Beard Papa’s choux a la creme needs no introduction.

Not a fan of custard? No problem. Beard Papa’s offers other seasonal fillings as well as a few different types of choux aside from the gold standard flaky pie choux. Could treating yourself get any sweeter?

A new era is upon us, dear readers. An era where even the staunchest of food snobs is free to make fun and whimsical food choices, and they absolutely should. Now go forth and get your food on!

AEON Mall Hiroshima Fuchu

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Hiroshima Food Snob

Freelance writer, translator, local TV talent, and full-time food snob in Hiroshima