Kochi is home to a wide variety of irresistible snacks, and imokenpi is sure one of them. Plus, it’s vegan-friendly too!
Ganso Kondo Imo-kenpi shop in Aki City has been producing these candied treats for more than 100 years using techniques and tools that have been passed on over generations. Although there are different theories regarding the origin of imo-kenpi, one of them traces back to the current owner’s great grandmother, who supposedly came up with the recipe when she started to think her usual dried or fried sweet potato snacks lacked sweetness. After gaining inspiration from a local mikan (Japanese mandarin) seller, she began sprinkling sugar on freshly-fried sweet potatoes, and the rest is history!
The signature style of the Kondo family’s imo-kenpi is thick, long, and relatively soft. Whether it’s making sure every sweet potato stick is evenly sliced, determining the correct consistency of melted sugar, or judging the frying time and temperature…all processes are carried out without automated machines–just years and years of practice
Located in Shimanto Town, Mizugurumaya is another famous maker of imo-kenpi, which is easily spotted by the retro waterwheel beside the shop. One of their signature products is the thinly-sliced imo-kenpi flavored with sugar and…wait for it…deep sea water from Kochi’s coast along Cape Muroto! The salt content of the deep sea water brings out the sweetness of the sugar while creating a beautifully balanced flavor profile