Konichiwa! I’m back from an amazing trip from the land of the rising sun. I’m going to try and keep this post about the ice cream I tried while visiting, but I may drift to a quick summary of the trip. (Don’t be madsies.) For starters, Green Tea ice cream is as popular in Japan as Bon Jovi is to Jersey. IT’S HUGE. A lot of shops will have large fake green tea ice cream molds luring pedestrians in.
While in Tokyo, we headed to Ouca ice cream shop where there were about a dozen flavors to choose from. As you can see by the photo, this particular day the colors didn’t really range but the flavors did.
I opted for Green Tea, Lemon Tea and Brownie. What was interesting was the delivery of the flavors wasn’t stacked like you typically find in the U.S. The flavors were side by side like they were playing a mini game of red rover. I like this presentation, it allows a person to consume a variety of flavors at the same time vs. having to nom down one entire flavor then onto the next.
The green tea was nice and subtle, not too overpowering and the texture wasn’t too thick by still creamy. The brownie flavor, which I thought was going to have bits of brownie turned out to taste more like chocolate ice cream. The lemon tea was more like a sorbet as you can tell by the glistening in the photo. This was very good and can imagine it must be refreshing in the summer. All ice cream is served with a light wafer cookie that’s paper thin and also a small bunch of dried salted sea weed strips.You are supposed to eat them after you eat the ice cream which is a nice balance of salty and sweet. I was such a fan of the salted sea weed strips that I bought two packages of them and intend on making an ice cream flavor dedicated to them. I mentioned this to my co-workers and received a mixed bag of emotions , ranging from grimaces to “oh I’ll try that!”
I also tried a soft serve of honey sesame which I didn’t get a photo of because I finished it before I could get my camera out. It was light gray in color with specs of sesame and I would be a season ticket holder if this flavor was a team here. Soft serve is tricky to flavor I feel because it doesn’t stay around a long time in your mouth before melting. Hard ice cream has a bit more of a layover on your taste buds before making an entry to your stomach so the flavors really come out. I was impressed with the honey sesame as the flavors hung around long enough for me to remember.
Ok this is where I tie my visit to Japan to ice cream. The side by side flavor pattern reminds me a lot of Japan’s culture. One flavor is very traditional, and that’s where the shrines, temples, and gardens parallels green tea. Lemon Tea reminds me of the fashion that Japan is noted for. Sorbets are to an extent a sophisticated form of ice cream because it’s healthier for you than the heavy cream and milk produced ice cream. I have never seen so much effort and all around attention to fashion as I did in Japan. I have visited New York, Chicago, L.A. and live in San Francisco and can honestly say that Tokyo blows any of these cities out in terms of fashion. EVERYONE puts in effort in their clothing, and the sheer size of their department stores alone is outstanding. One department store which we ended up eating dinner at had 12 stories…and this was just one store. The Brownie flavor reminds me of being a kid and the imagination that ties into a fantasy world that also exists in Japanese culture. From anime to bright lights, Tokyo has pockets of fantasy which paradoxes the green tea traditional flavor. The streets of Akihabara are lined with “maid girls” who are dressed up in anime attire trying to attract young men into their shops to buy electronics or play games in their arcade. All three flavors balance each other out and make for one unique and unforgettable experience.
Domo Arigato Japan for letting me be a spectator in your lovely country!
Videos from the trip!
Food of Japan: