Translated by Lester Somera
10 Tasty Frozen Japanese-Style Treats To Try In Summer
Written by Kyoka Yamamoto
During the extreme heat in summers in Japan, you will find yourself wanting to eat something cool! In this article, we list our top ten ice cream, shaved ice, and frozen Japanese-style desserts.
Indulge in Summer Sweets in Japan
In the summertime, temperatures in Japan can exceed 35℃ (95℉). You’ll often see people eating ice cream or kakigori (shaved ice) to deal with the sweltering heat.
While ice cream is a common summer treat, Japan has many unique and delicious Japanese-style sweets, as well. Let’s take a look at Japanese ice cream and shaved ice that are perfect for summer, so that you can enjoy your trip even in the heat!
1. Gomaya Kuki in Harajuku: Rich Sesame Ice Cream
Gomaya Kuki in Harajuku is a cafe where you can indulge in incredibly rich sesame ice cream.
One cup of ice cream (500 yen, tax included) is made using up to 9,000 sesame seeds. There are four ice cream varieties: white sesame, white sesame with assorted grains, black sesame, and black sesame salt. You can choose between strong and ultra-strong for the flavors of white and black sesame ice cream.
Crispy Sesame Ice Cream Tempura
Picture courtesy of Gomaya Kuki
The crispy ice cream tempura (500 yen) is also recommended.
The tempura is fried in special Kuki Kinshira pure sesame oil, which is used at high-end tempura restaurants.
As the name suggests, the outer sesame coating is crispy, and contains a rich sesame ice cream filling you can enjoy.
2. Japanese Ice Ouca in Ebisu: Savor Seasonal Ingredients
The concept of Japanese Ice Ouca is based on eating seasonally, and its desserts utilize ingredients selected from all over Japan. The ice cream is carefully made every day at the shop, so you can enjoy the flavor of freshly-made ice cream and ingredients.
The photo displays a combination of matcha green tea ice cream from the famous Kyoto tea-producing area of Uji. It is paired with a rich milk ice cream and a limited-edition strawberry sherbet only sold between March and June. It comes with shio-kombu (*1) to cleanse your palate, and has a stylish appearance.
In addition to ice cream, you can also try parfaits, shaved ice, and other desserts and snacks made with seasonal ingredients.
*1: Shio-kombu is kombu seaweed cooked with soy sauce, salt and other seasonings.
Matcha Green Tea Shake
The matcha green tea shake (520 yen) is a popular item containing a generous amount of Uji matcha green tea ice cream and whipped cream.
After stirring the shake, it have just the right amount of sweetness to drink easily. This is shake is available year-round.
3. Salon Ginza Sabou in Ginza: Superb Matcha Green Tea Parfaits
Picture from Enjoy Tasteful Matcha Parfaits At Salon Ginza Sabou
One of the most popular dishes at Salon Ginza Sabou is the Sabou parfait (1,100 yen, tax included). Served in a masu (*2), the matcha powder sprinkled on the surface of the parfait is reminiscent of a karesansui, a type of traditional Japanese garden. It is sure to inspire a sense of Japanese elegance when you try it.
Inside the matcha green tea ice cream and rich mascarpone cream, are chestnuts, warabi mochi (chewy mochi covered in sweet soybean powder) and chocolate pearls. You can enjoy a variety of different textures as you eat this treat.
*2: A masu is a wooden box-shaped container. It was used in the past to measure liquids, grains and other substances.
4. Cha no Kiminoen in Ueno: MATCHA Green Tea Soft Serve from a Japanese Tea Maker!
Cha No Kiminoen is a specialty tea shop that has been in business for over 90 years, selling matcha green tea soft-serve ice cream.
There are three flavors: Hokkaido vanilla soft serve, green tea soft serve, and a mix of the two. The matcha green tea flavor is 350 yen, and the others are 300 yen.
In addition to the ice cream, there are dozens of varieties of rare tea leaves, green tea cookies and cute containers for tea leaves that are also perfect as souvenirs.
5. Suzukien in Asakusa: Rich Matcha Green Tea Gelato
At Suzukien in Asakusa, you can treat yourself to the richest green tea gelato in the world.
There are several different levels of richness, from No. 1 to No. 7. Level No. 1 contains the same amount of richness as standard matcha green tea ice cream you can commonly find at other shops. It has a characteristically light green tea flavor. No. 3 captures the perfect balance between the flavors of milk and green tea. Comparatively, No. 7 is the richest green tea gelato in the world. No. 7 uses high-grade, green tea that has won awards from Japan's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to craft a special matcha green tea gelato. Definitely give it a taste for yourself!
Other gelato flavors are: hojicha roasted tea, brown rice tea, dainagon azuki (sweet red beans), Japanese black tea, strawberry, black sesame, and seasonal flavors.
6. Naniwa in Asakusa: Shaved Ice with Seasonal Fruit
Picture from Summer Staple: 5 Best Places For Shaved Ice In Tokyo
Naniwaya is famous for its taiyaki, but its shaved ice is worth trying as well! We highly recommend the milk and fruit shaved ice (750 yen, tax included).
Filled with and piled high with plenty of in-season fruit, it has the perfect amount of milky sweetness.
There are many other unique flavors only available at this shop, including Uji kintoki (*3), matcha green tea and milk, kinako (*4) shaved ice, and coffee with milk and anko bean paste. There are also limited-edition shaved ice flavors.
Taiyaki and shaved ice are sold all year-round.
*3: Made with Uji green tea syrup, Uji kintoki has toppings like adzuki beans and shiratama mochi balls.
*4: Kinako is made of roasted soybeans, ground into powder. It is often used in Japanese sweets.
7. Chakura in Asakusa: Exquisite Shaved Ice Made from High-Quality Ingredients
Picture from 5 Cool Treats To Enjoy In Asakusa!
Located near Asakusa Temple, Chakura is a cafe popular with tourists.
The shaved ice is made with fresh water said to be the most delicious in Japan, from Mt. Yatsugatake in Yamanashi prefecture, and homemade syrup.
The most popular item is the gold medal Uji kintoki made with freshwater ice (1,280 yen).
This shaved ice uses homemade condensed milk and Uji syrup that has earned a gold medal, a designation only given to special green tea.
8. Yelo in Roppongi: A Shaved Ice Bar Open at Night
Picture from Shaved Ice Specialty Shop, "yelo", in Roppongi
If you get the craving for shaved ice after a late-night dinner, we recommend the shaved ice specialty shop, Yelo.
At Yelo, a new kind of cafe and bar, you can enjoy shaved ice as you drink alcoholic beverages.
There are various kinds of unusual shaved ice only available here, with 10 variations just on the regular menu!
With a robust selection of toppings like almonds, Oreos and tapioca pearls, you can customize your shaved ice to your liking. There is a guide for what toppings are best for each flavor and texture of ice which you can use as a reference to create your own shaved ice bowl.
There is also a Yelo cafe in Shinjuku.
Get your Ice Cream Fix at a Convenience Store!
When it’s hot outside, you need ice cream! At times like these, we suggest visiting a convenience store.
9. Mochi filled with Ice Cream? Yukimi Daifuku
Yukimi Daifuku (starting at 150 yen) is ice cream wrapped in soft mochi. The standard flavor is vanilla, but seasonal varieties are also sold. We hope you try out different flavors throughout the year!
There are also mini-daifuku packs that are easy to save for later (left). You can buy them at supermarkets and major retailers in addition to convenience stores. These are helpful when you want to bring something back to share with friends and family.
10. Full of Sweet Red Bean! Azuki Bars
The Azuki Bar is ice cream containing azuki bean paste, one of the most commonly used ingredients in wagashi (Japanese-style sweets). It contains zero additives and no food coloring, and is made using plenty of azuki bean. A bar is reasonably priced at 108 yen.
There are also milk kintoki bars and Uji kintoki bars available from this brand. In each bar, you can enjoy how the azuki bean paste pairs with the flavor of milk and matcha green tea. We recommend these bars if you want something with a mild sweetness.
On hot summer days, ice cream and parfaits become even more delicious and enjoyable to eat. Use this opportunity to try as many frozen treats as you can!