This wonderful little cake store is tucked away in one of the Furumachi malls. If you follow this web address it has a phone number and the address written for you to follow:
It’s not at all a restaurant, so the standard rating system goes a bit askew, but the overall principles apply.
Atmosphere: It has a very small store front, and a relatively small shopping interior, but the managers really maximize the space and put all the different flavors to choose from on display. What I love is the view to the kitchen/bakery from the sales floor. There is typically one person in the store as a clerk with a few more skittering around the kitchen area. I walked in and immediately felt awash with a feeling of calm, so: 4.5.
Love this little historical look at castella making in the store. It definitely distinguishes ‘Hari Castella’ and gives it some personality.
(The view into the back)
Food: My favorite for sure is the ‘Osake Iri’ Castella called a ‘Jizake’ Castella. It’s allegedly for people who don’t drink sake but would still like the savor of sake. I’ve had it twice, and the sponge cake is magically saturated with sake, and it disappeared in about 5 minutes. There is a locally focused ‘Popoyaki’ flavored Castella. Popoyaki is a local delicacy of Niigata — a spongy, light stick bread, like a twinkie with no ‘cream’ inside and no artificial anything plus a hint of a cinnamon flavor, and I was so excited to see it offered at the store. The castellas go for about 700 yen. 4 out 5. I would give it 5 out of 5, but I need to sample more castellas.
Service: Japan has spoiled me so much. The clerks tend to be so willing and excited about engaging with the customers. It’s more of a standard, and ‘Hari Castella’ was no exception. I love asking clerks/employees which cakes they enjoy and getting constructive answers. It’s like a litmus test of the employee and the store. The woman was obviously nervous to help a gaijin to the point of shaking a little as she gave me a store flier in the bag with the castellas, but she powered through it and made some spot on recommendations suggesting the Popoyaki Castella as an excellent everyone will enjoy type of treat. 4.5 of 5 just because I need more to compare her service to.
I highly recommend going yourself and telling me what you think!