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Surprising Combinations! Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream And Japanese Flavors

Surprising Combinations! Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream And Japanese Flavors

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by MATCHA-PR

2020.09.01 Bookmark

How do miso, soy sauce, wasabi, and other classic Japanese ingredients taste in ice cream? Join us for a taste-test of flavor combinations with Häagen-Dazs Japan ice cream and unique toppings. These combinations might be your new favorite way to eat frozen desserts.

The Harmony of Japanese Flavors and Ice Cream

Surprising Combinations! Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream And Japanese Flavors

Traditional Japanese ingredients like miso (fermented soybean paste), shoyu (soy sauce), and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) have flavor profiles that many people from around the world find hard to imagine.

The first time the writer had wasabi after coming to Japan is a moment she'll never forget. Its pungent spice was stimulating to the palate, and its vivid green color was so unusual. Before she realized it, she was putting it on everything and had become addicted to wasabi’s unique flavor.

Japanese flavors pair well with many different ingredients but how about if we combine them with a dessert?

ice cream and Japanese flavor

MATCHA staff (Pictured from left to right: Miho, Fumi, Hiromasa, and Yuki)

Four members of the MATCHA staff gathered together to taste-test everyone's favorite dessert––ice cream—paired with Japanese ingredients!

The ice cream used are the standard flavors of Häagen-Dazs Japan.

Pairing Häagen-Dazs, a beloved ice cream brand around the world, with classic Japanese ingredients is a great way to experience the flavors of Japan, even for those who are unfamiliar to them.

In this article, we introduce the ingredients tested during our search for delicious flavor combinations. We compared the flavors, textures, and presentation of the combinations to find the best dessert creations. After reading this article, you’ll be craving to try these one-of-a-kind treats yourself!

Table of Contents

1. Miso – The Secret Behind the “Taste of Japan”

Japanese Breakfast

Photo by Pixta

Miso soup is a fundamental dish in Japanese cuisine, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Miso soup is made from miso, which is traditionally created by fermenting soybeans or rice.


Photo by Pixta

Although they’re all collectively termed as miso, there are various kinds of miso with diverse flavors and distinct processing methods.

For example, akamiso is a dark, reddish-brown miso. It has a high salt content and is packed with flavor. Akamiso is made by steaming the soybeans, then fermenting them for a long period under high temperature.

Shiromiso, or white miso, is a smoother, sweeter variety. It’s made by combining boiled soybeans, rice, and malt, then fermenting the mixture over a short period.

Miso as an Ice Cream Topping!


We tested red miso and white miso and added the paste to four standard Häagen-Dazs flavors—Green Tea, Crisp Chip Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry!

How does it taste?

miso and Häagen-Dazs

Left: Fumi

“I can't tell what flavor this is!” Fumi exclaimed after eating the strawberry ice cream topped with akamiso. Another staff member given the ice cream paired with akamiso had a similar reaction.

However, the reaction was completely different for the white miso: “It has a smooth, subtle flavor that goes unexpectedly well with the ice cream.”

Fumi commented, “I’ve only used white miso when making miso soup. I didn’t realize how good it would be on dessert!”

White miso is indeed used in wagashi sweets. Shiromiso-an, a white bean paste created by combining anko and white miso, is often used as a filling for manju (steamed buns) and daifuku (mochi filled with bean paste). Hanabira mochi, a traditional confection from Kyoto, is also made by wrapping shiromiso-an in mochi to create a sophisticated flavor.

The Winning Flavor Combination

Häagen-Dazs and miso

The favorite flavor pairing among the MATCHA staff is the Green Tea with white miso.

The soft texture of the white miso envelops the green tea, transforming it into a mellow flavor. Add a teaspoon of white miso paste to the ice cream content of a mini cup for the perfect balance.

2. Soy Sauce – The Flavor Enhancer for Sushi

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

Picture from Savoring Sushi! A Complete Guide To Sushi And Useful Tips

Sushi is the best-known Japanese cuisine overseas. Shoyu, or soy sauce, is a crucial companion to sushi, helping enhance its delicious flavors.

soy sauce

Photo by Pixta

Shoyu is a liquid condiment made mainly with soybeans, wheat, and salt that is then fermented. There is a wide variety of shoyu in Japan with varying depths in flavor due to how it’s made, such as dark soy sauce versus light soy sauce. There are even sweet varieties of soy sauce sold today. For this test, we used the shoyu typically used in cooking in Japan.

Does Adding Soy Sauce Make Ice Cream Tastier?

soy sauce and ice ream

We added shoyu to four ice creams—Vanilla, Rich Milk, Cookies & Cream, and Macadamia Nut.

The soy sauce was immediately absorbed into the ice cream. However, after giving it a try, we couldn’t taste anything distinctly different.

We contemplated on what to do. Then, a staff member suggested, “What about making a mitarashi sauce with the shoyu?”

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

Picture from Japanese Dango: How To Eat And Make Traditional Japanese Sweets

Mitarashi sauce is a type of sauce used as topping for dango and other wagashi. It is made by mixing together soy sauce, water, sugar, and potato starch to make its hallmark viscosity and savory fragrance.

mitarashi sauce on ice cream

Let’s get right into making the mitarashi sauce. Add 100 milliliters of water into a small pot. Mix in two tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of sugar, and one tablespoon of potato starch, then cook for three minutes while mixing it. It’s done!

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

Let the mitarashi sauce cool slightly, then top the ice cream with it. We’ve made a beautiful Japanese-style dessert.

We tried it again with all four flavors. The staff unanimously agreed, “They’re all so good!”

The salty-sweetness of the mitarashi sauce complements the sweetness of the ice cream.

The Winning Flavor Combination

mitarashi sauce and ice cream

Left: Hiromasa

Hiromasa said, “If I had to choose just one, then it’d be the Cookies & Cream with mitarashi sauce. It has a great taste, looks nice, and has an enjoyable texture!”

The three different textures—velvety ice cream, moist cookies, and thick mitarashi sauce—make this combination enjoyable from the first scoop. The mitarashi sauce is easy to make, so everyone should try it out!

3. Amazake – A Traditional Japanese Drink


Amazake is a traditional Japanese beverage so high in nutrition that it is also nicknamed the “drinkable IV.” It is made with either malted rice or sake lees as the base and is known for its cloudy white appearance and sweet flavor.

Amazake made with sake lees contains a small amount of alcohol, so children and pregnant women should avoid this version and have the malted rice version instead. The malted rice version is alcohol-free.

Amazake has garnered attention as a super food great for beauty and health. It has been popular in Japan since long ago and was consumed in the summers during the Edo period as a preventative measure against heatstroke.

Add Amazake to Beautifully Colored Ice Cream

amazake with ice cream

We added amazake to three flavors—Crisp Chip Chocolate, Green Tea, and Strawberry. Combined with their wonderful colors, we’re super excited to see how it tastes!

amazake with ice cream

Pictured: Yuki

Yuki commented, “The delicate flavor of amazake smoothly melts into the flavor of the ice cream.”

The other staff also tried the pairings without any complaints. While the flavor does change when amazake is added, it results in a naturally enhanced taste.

The Winning Flavor Combination

amazake and ice cream

Yuki, a self-proclaimed amazake lover, chose Strawberry with sake lees amazake as her favorite.

“The fruitiness of the strawberry and delightful aroma of the sake lees are outstanding together!”

Amazake, mild and easy-to-drink, seemed to enhance the flavor of the ice cream. It also has a rich aroma, so try adding it as an accent to your ice cream.

4. Wasabi – A Stimulating Flavor Vital to Sashimi

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

Picture from Japanese Encyclopedia: Wasabi

Wasabi is an ingredient frequently seen in Japanese cuisine. Its cultivation requires clean, pure water. The smell and flavor of wasabi are so stimulating that it’ll make your eyes water if eaten in a single bite. Due to its antibacterial properties, it is often used as a garnish when eating raw foods.

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

Photo by Pixta
Wasabi pairs amazingly with sashimi, a raw seafood dish cut into bite-sized pieces. In Japan, sashimi is eaten with soy sauce mixed with wasabi.

How would wasabi, with its strong pungency and heat, taste when paired with the sweetness of ice cream?

Unexpectedly Delicious?! Ice Cream Topped with Wasabi

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

We paired the wasabi with four flavors: Macadamia Nut, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Cookies & Cream. The bright green of the wasabi stands out against the ice cream and, visually, appears well-executed.

How about the flavor?


“It’s unexpectedly good!”

Each of our staff had the same surprised reaction. Wasabi has a strong presence even in the smallest quantities. However, the milk in the Häagen-Dazs ice cream softens the spiciness of the wasabi, transforming it into an overall moderate flavor.

The Winning Flavor Combination

wasabi and ice cream

Miho’s winning combination was the Macadamia Nut with wasabi.

Miho added, “Combining the pungency of wasabi to richly flavored butterscotch and savory macadamia nuts added balance to its taste. It also makes the ice cream’s delicious flavor even more prominent.”

You might feel dubious if you’re familiar with the flavor of wasabi. However, be brave and add just a tiny bit to your frozen dessert. You’ll be captivated by this flavor pairing!

5. Bonus! Grated Daikon Radish with Ice Cream

grated daikon

The curious MATCHA staff explored the possibility of more flavor combinations. Believe it or not, we tried pairing ice cream with grated daikon radish!

First, we added just the grated daikon itself to the strawberry-flavored ice cream. Exactly what kind of flavor will daikon radish, a vegetable, and sweet ice cream create?

“The texture of the grated daikon together with velvety ice cream makes for a one-of-a-kind combination, but there might be better way to combine them,” Hiromasa commented. We still haven’t scrapped the possibility just yet.

soy sauce and ice cream

The condiment that saved the day was soy sauce. We added several drops to the grated daikon before placing it on the ice cream.

Hiromasa exclaimed, “The soy sauce made the flavor richer and it increased its freshness. It’s not a bad combination!”

If you’re interested in how it tastes, give it a try!

Try Häagen-Dazs Japan Ice Cream with Traditional Flavors

Unexpected Flavor Combos! What Japan Flavor And Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Pairings Taste Best?

We discovered several new flavors by pairing together Japanese ingredients with Häagen-Dazs ice cream. Perhaps even those unfamiliar with Japanese ingredients will find it easy to introduce these flavors into their lifestyles.

Definitely give other flavor combinations a try to make a Japanese-flavor-infused original dessert with Häagen-Dazs ice cream!

Written by Ramona Taranu
MATCHA photos by Monami I
Sponsored by Häagen-Dazs Japan, Incorporated.

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