LeTAO is one of the most popular souvenir stores for visitors to Hokkaido. With multiple locations in Otaru City, Hokkaido, as well as in Chitose City and Sapporo City, LeTAO is famous for its cheesecake, Double Fromage. However, they also boast a variety of other delicious souvenir sweets you may want to try out!
Here, Nobuka Kawashima, an experienced travel creator specializing in Hokkaido travel information, has compared some of these delicious delicacies from LeTAO and curated a list of her five favorite confections to buy as souvenirs.
Nobuka Kawashima is a travel professional who has visited every city, town, and village in Hokkaido
Nobuka Kawashima is a travel creator based in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. She has worked as a reporter, photographer, writer, and editor on Hokkaido-related travel and gourmet articles for LIVE JAPAN, as well as a number of other tourism websites and travel magazines, since 2009. She has worked on over 1,000 articles and is a true professional in the world of travel blogging.
She also boasts the title 'Hokkaido Tourism Master,' awarded to Hokkaido tourism experts by the Hokkaido Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as national qualifications as a 'Domestic Travel Service Supervisor,' allowing her to conduct tours in Japan. On top of that, she's also visited each and every one of the 179 cities, towns, and villages of Hokkaido in her own spare time, making her a true travel connoisseur of the region with her extensive first-hand knowledge.
LeTAO: A Must-Buy Souvenir for Otaru Travelers! Also Available in Sapporo and New Chitose Airport
LeTAO crafts and sells an array of sweets and confections made with fresh cream from Hokkaido's finest unpasteurized milk, carefully combined with domestic and foreign cheeses, chocolates, and fruits.
Originally established in Chitose City in 1998 as a chocolate manufacturer and wholesaler, LeTAO (officially known as 'Otaru Confectionery LeTAO') opened its first retail store in Otaru City in 1998 (now known as 'Otaru Confectionery LeTAO Honten').
As of April 2023, LeTAO operates six directly-managed stores in Otaru City in various forms, including a café and bakery as part of a souvenir shop. Outside of Otaru City, there are also directly-managed branches in New Chitose Airport and the Daimaru Department Store directly connected to Sapporo Station. You can also find LeTAO products at some airport souvenir shops in Hokkaido. With so many stores in Otaru City, it's become customary for Otaru travelers to pay a visit to LeTAO!
One delightful aspect of visiting directly-managed shops is the occasional offering of free samples. While samples are not always guaranteed, if you visit at the right time, customers may be able to taste some of LeTAO's classic and limited-edition products, right in the store! It's great to be able to try before you buy and see what options are available. You may find your next favorite flavor!
Top 5 Recommended LeTAO Sweets
Without further ado, here are the five recommended souvenirs from LeTAO. This selection focuses on products that embody LeTAO's most unique characteristics, including their super-popular cheesecake, Double Fromage, as well as aromatic chocolates.
Refrigerated and frozen products are ideal for snacking at your hotel, while room-temperature goods that can handle long trips make convenient souvenirs. With such variety, you can be sure to find the perfect souvenir sweet for every occasion!
1. Double Fromage
LeTAO is perhaps most well-known for its delicious Double Fromage. This masterpiece of a cheesecake is one product you absolutely won't want to miss out on!
This cake has two distinct layers, made with LeTAO's original Hokkaido milk fresh cream, Italian mascarpone cheese, and Australian cream cheese. The top layer consists of a rare cheese made from the rich mascarpone, while the rich and moist bottom layer is made from cream cheese.
With just one bite, the milky creaminess of the delectable Double Fromage takes over your tastebuds. The rich and full flavor allows you to savor the cream cheese without feeling overwhelmed. The fluffy top layer of rare cheese is soft and melts in your mouth, while the bottom layer of baked cheese is rich and robust.
Despite the differences in texture and flavor, when enjoyed together, both layers intertwine harmoniously for an exquisite experience.
Double Fromage is sold in the shop's frozen section, so we recommend buying this treat to take back to enjoy at your accommodation. And while frozen delivery purchases are also an option, shipping is limited to destinations within Japan.
The best time to eat this treat is right after thawing it in the refrigerator for 5-8 hours, while the best-before date is within 48 hours from the start of thawing.
The texture is pleasantly smooth when fully defrosted, with a noticeably stronger milky and cheesy flavor. If eaten when partially thawed, it has a crispy, iced cake-like texture that is refreshing to the palate. We recommend eating half of it partially defrosted and the rest after defrosting is complete, so you can try it at two different textures and enjoy the best of both worlds!
2. Otaru Rue Ironai Fromage
Otaru Rue Ironai Fromage features a cheese-covered Langue de Chat cookie sandwiched between cheesy chocolate. They can be stored at room temperature and are reasonably sized, making them perfect for souvenirs.
They're also a good alternative to the frozen Fromage if you're looking for an easy-to-take-home treat that still allows you to indulge in the taste of LeTAO's top-quality cheese!
Otaru Rue Ironai Fromage uses the same Italian mascarpone and cream cheese as the Double Fromage, as well as fresh cream and butter from Hokkaido's raw milk.
The pronounced cheese flavor in this Langue de Chat treat practically bursts out at you with every bite. The salty cheese flavors also balance quite well with the sweetness of the chocolate and cookie, which starts out with a crispy texture that gradually moistens as you enjoy it. Cheese lovers will surely love this Langue de Chat, making it another must-have to add to your shopping list!
3. Royal Montagne
Royal Montagne is another of LeTAO's signature sweets, together with the previously-introduced Double Fromage. It consists of black tea chocolate, infused with the elegant aroma of Darjeeling tea. These pyramid-shaped, bite-sized chocolates are meticulously crafted with finely-ground Darjeeling tea leaves and LeTAO's special blend of cocoa mass, dusted with cocoa powder.
It's like a tea you can eat! Each piece of chocolate sends a rush of refined Darjeeling flavor from your tongue to the back of your nose. The cocoa powder dusting gives it an exquisite sweetness, neither too bitter nor sweet, in just the right amount. The texture is an impressive combination of cocoa powder on the tongue, and the gradually increasing smoothness of the raw chocolate.
Royal Montagne has a melting point of 21.9 degrees Celsius, so chilling it in the refrigerator is recommended. Doing so allows the raw chocolate to become firm, so you can enjoy the aroma of the tea as it slowly melts in your mouth.
For a smoother experience, remove it from the refrigerator just before eating to enjoy it at room temperature. As this product requires refrigeration, we recommend asking for a refrigerated bag with a coolant if purchasing it as a souvenir.
Like the Royal Montagne, THÉNOIR is a confectionery that allows you to savor the wonderful aroma of Darjeeling tea. It's not your typical fresh chocolate, but a baked chocolate Langue de Chat with black tea-infused chocolate sandwiched between two cocoa cookies.
Royal Montagne requires refrigeration and is not suitable for long-distance trips. However, THÉNOIR can be stored at room temperature, making it a perfect souvenir selection! For a long-lasting souvenir to take home that allows you to indulge in LeTAO's distinctive Darjeeling flavor, THÉNOIR is a top pick. The individually-wrapped pieces are also a convenient plus!
The cookies are crispy and light in texture. While the chocolate inside may seem firm at first bite, it quickly melts in your mouth, offering a deliciously smooth sensation. Like the Royal Montagne, this treat also boasts a pleasant Darjeeling aroma. Your tastebuds will thank you for this delightful tea experience. It's a full course of afternoon tea in a single, chocolatey piece!
5. Rare Chocolate Niagara
It's chocolate that tastes like a fruit! Rare Chocolate Niagara is a grape-flavored chocolate confection that tastes so fruity, you won't believe it's chocolate!
Niagara is a rare grape variety that is uncommon to find in stores, characterized by its rather strong aroma and fruity flavor. Popular in Hokkaido, these grapes are often used to make white wine. Rare Chocolate Niagara is a bite-sized chocolate that combines LeTAO's original white chocolate with fresh cream and the wine-reminiscent Niagara grapes.
Pierce a piece with a fork, and you'll notice its soft, pliable nature. Once in your mouth, the sensation is like a soft marshmallow, with a fruity Niagara aroma that'll take over your tastebuds. The chocolate itself is rich yet balanced, not too intense or overwhelming. Above all, the aroma is simply divine!
As you are captivated by the enchanting scent, the chocolate quickly dissolves in your mouth, gone before you know it. The pleasant Niagara aroma wafts through your senses as the chocolate melts, leaving a lingering aftertaste on your tongue with each piece. Although they require refrigeration and may not be suitable for long trips, this fruity chocolate is one treat you'll definitely want to try for yourself!
LeTAO offers a wide variety of cakes, baked goods, and chocolates that wonderfully highlight the flavors of cheese, tea, fruit, and fresh cream. With an abundance of delectable Hokkaido souvenirs to choose from, it may not be easy to know where to start. However, if you're planning a trip to Hokkaido, and especially if you are visiting Otaru, you'll definitely want to stop by LeTAO! With an array of amazingly aromatic sweets and delicious pastries, it's one shopping experience you won't want to miss!
Text by: Nobuka Kawashima
*Information in article as of May 2023. Please see official website for the latest updates and information.
English translation by: Krys Suzuki
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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