For Love of Manneken Waffles

Japanese rail and subway stations sell some of the best snack food anywhere.

Case in point: Manneken Waffles.

You can find Manneken Waffle shops in many of Japan’s larger cities, and most of the major train stations have a Manneken shop inside.

The logo – line art of the famous Mannekin Pis statue in Brussels, seems an odd choice for a waffle shop, but considering that the statue is a well-known Belgian symbol, and the shop sells Belgian-style waffles, it’s more entertaining than weird.

Mannekin Waffle shops sell a fairly large variety of waffles, from the expected (“plain” and chocolate chip) to the unexpected–like this “grape” waffle I picked up in Kyoto station:

The shop also features monthly “specials,” with seasonal ingredients. Last October, the menu included a pumpkin waffle, which I passed on because it’s not my thing. However, November brought “caramel apple” – an apple waffle with caramel icing and a chocolate drizzle:

Delicious in every way.

Mannekin waffles are not overly sweet. Even the caramel apple one pictured above used a sour apple dough to complement the caramel icing (which, surprisingly, wasn’t sweet enough to overpower the waffle). I expected it to be a sugar bomb, but in reality it was extremely well balanced: sour, sweet, and crispy on the outside with a tender center.

If you’re traveling in Japan, keep your eyes out for mannekin pis…a tasty waffle won’t be far away.