Everyone loves cooling down in warm weather with an ice-cream, whether it is a creamy chocolate concoction, a refreshing fruity blast or something served in a cone. So what were the kinds of ice cream in Japan that really made the summer this year?
Hands down, this is one of my favourite Japanese ice cream discoveries. At first glance, it looks like an average cone-shaped ice-cream had a nasty accident and become completely flattened… but don’t worry, it’s supposed to look like that! The flattened ice-cream cone is sealed on top with a cap of white chocolate, peppered with crunchy bits of loveliness. Under that, the ice-cream is golden honey colour, giving way to the cheesecake flavoured ice-cream beneath. Yum. Cheese-cake…. honey… what’s not to like? Available sporadically in convenience stores but more commonly at supermarkets.
Good old 7-Eleven has done us proud in the ice-cream department. At 220 calories, this little pot of blueberry yogurt ice-cream is more calorific than you would expect for the size of the pot… but totally worth it. One of the creamiest, smoothest ice-creams I’ve tried in Japan, and if blueberry isn’t your thing then fear not – there is a plain version too.
Any bargain hunter who shops at Aeon (Daiei) will be well aware of their ‘TopValu’ own brand products – good quality and very reasonable prices. The TopValu ice-cream pots are no different – good value for money and utterly delicious. My personal favourites are the cheesecake flavour and the yuzu flavour. The yuzu one (a type of Japanese fruit which is like a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit) is more of a sorbet than an ice-cream, and at only 59 calories per pot, it’s a perfectly innocent dessert. Other flavours include vanilla, peach and chocolate cake (which has little crumbs of actual cake in it…amazing.)
This ice-cream was such a fantastic surprise. From the packaging, I guessed I was buying a little individual box of chocolate mochi ice-cream, but how wrong I was! These 7-Eleven products are balls of rich chocolate ice-cream that has been coated in an even richer, creamier chocolate ganache, that is perfectly smooth and soft as it slides off the ice-cream. After discovering what these actually were, I quickly found an excuse to go back to the convenience store to buy another packet. Truly luxurious – you can see why they are part of 7-Elevens Premium Gold product series.
No particular brand for this recommendation (though of course Lotte springs to mind) but just in general, mochi ice-creams are the bee’s knees. The individual packets I tend to buy have been almost totally out of stock in convenience stores over the summer (they must be more popular in winter…) but there are plenty of independent shops dedicated to selling mochi products. Bold flavours are recommended over subtle ones, but whatever the flavour, you can’t go wrong with a mochi ice-cream. Besides; they’re so small that you could easily gobble up two or three in a row without feeling too guilty…
Have you tried Crunky chocolate products? Well, there is also a crunky ice-cream for you to sample. Sadly, much like the chocolate version the ice-cream was a little disappointing. Most foreigners who pick up a Crunky ice-cream probably do so because of its amusing name… but the name is pretty much the best part of it – the ice-cream was just a little… uninspiring.
You know that feeling when you’re walking along and you think to yourself “Gosh, I could really use an ice-cream…” Well, if you’re in luck, you’ll bump into a Seventeen Ice vending machine and be able to satisfy your ice-cream needs. As the name suggests, the vending machines usually stock 17 different types of ice-creams – plenty to choose from! Top flavours include raspberry cheesecake, cookies and chocolate, maple cheesecake, chocolate pudding, purple yam and brown sugar, and chocolate nuts. The size of the ice-creams is a little smaller than shop-bought ones, but at only about 130 Yen each they are certainly worth the money.
You can’t get far in Japan without coming across a matcha (green tea) product. Green tea flavoured ice-cream is popular with both Japanese and foreign ice-cream lovers – even people who don’t like matcha will often gobble down a green tea ice-cream. Even if you’re not into green tea products, I recommend you give it a try – there is something about the green tea flavour that really lends itself to the cold, dessert form. If you want the full Japanese experience, you couldn’t really get much more Japanese than a green tea ice-cream flavoured mochi!
This is super-popular in Japan during the summer, particularly during festivals and celebrations where kakigori stalls spring up all over the place. Basically, it’s just a cup full of thinly grated ice that is drenched in flavoured syrup, and often with a topping of condensed milk drizzled on top (which I was dubious about, but actually quite liked on sampling it.) Popular flavours include strawberry, lemon, blue Hawaii, melon, grape and green tea. Watch out for making a mess as the flavour syrup stains really easily – your tongue will be the colour of whichever flavour you choose for the rest of the day. Fun to try but, in my opinion, pretty overrated. I mean… it’s just ice.
Summer may be over, but many of these delicious ice-creams are available all year round. Given that most of Japan usually enjoys warm temperatures until mid-Autumn, there is plenty of time and plenty of excuses left to try some more of these sweet treats.