In Japan, it’s never too cold to enjoy the sweet taste of ice cream. While it might sound crazy in theory, eating ice cream during the coldest months of the year here is said to replicate the enjoyable temperature extremes of a snow-covered onsen hot spring, as people can rug up under a kotatsu heated table while refreshing themselves with their favourite frozen dessert.
It’s an interesting marketing ploy, and one we fell for immediately as we browsed the frozen section at supermarkets and convenience stores, looking for the best treats to spoil ourselves with while enjoying the heated warmth indoors.
Though the selections on offer were good, the ones we liked best came from 7-Eleven, as their range of seasonal delights stood out above the rest for their rich creaminess, fantastic flavour combinations, and surprising textures, making them some of the best ice creams on the market in Japan right now. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five in more detail below.
1. Macaron Ice Sandwich (248 yen)
These ice-cream-filled macarons come in four flavours: chocolate, framboise, caramel and pistachio.
We tried the pistachio variety, which had a light flavour in both the ice cream and the macarons.
What stood out with this particular treat was its remarkable texture. Biting into this was like biting into a cloud, with just a hint of crunch from the surface of the sweet, which contrasted well with the light and chewy texture of the macaron.
The thick serving of rich ice cream in the centre melted on the tongue perfectly, combining with the lightness of the macaron to create a creamy yet refreshing sweet. Containing just 159 calories, this palm-sized treat is one you don’t have to feel guilty about devouring.
2. Häagen-Dazs Creamy Cone (350 yen)
This ice cream made news around Japan when it was released on 5 December for being the first frozen cone dessert to be created by the world-famous company.
Häagen-Dazs is well known for their rich and creamy ice creams, which usually come in small tubs, so ripping into their new Creamy Cone is a real treat for fans of the hugely popular brand.
The caramel chocolate-covered top on this one extends throughout the sweet on the inside surface of the cone, so you can enjoy the sweet and crunchy flavour all the way down to the last mouthful.
This one comes in only one flavour: Caramel and Macadamia, which turns out to be a pretty spectacular combination when combined with rich vanilla ice cream.
With its macadamia pieces and bits of caramel, every mouthful of this ice cream is a heavenly treat for the taste buds.
3. Häagen-Dazs Spécialité Matcha Opera (449 yen)
This ice cream first caught our eye back in September last year. Available at convenience stores around the country, this frozen dessert comes with a relatively high price tag, but for lovers of luxury, it’s worth it.
As you open it up, it’s obvious that no expense has been spared in creating a high-quality dessert here, as the first thing you see is a rich chocolate glaze sprinkled with a dusting of gold powder.
Underneath its glossy exterior are layers of matcha green tea ice cream, almond cookie wafer, and blonde chocolate, which is a mix of black, white, and milk chocolate.
This frozen take on the multi-layered French gâteau opéra, or opera cake, is absolutely divine. It’s creamy, sweet, and bitter at the same time, and while it contains some bold rich ingredients, the generous serving of matcha in each mouthful gives it an elegant, refreshing flavour.
4. Rich Ganache Chocolate Uji Matcha (238 yen)
Just looking at the package here is enough to make your mouth water! Sweets that combine chocolate and matcha are a popular choice in Japan, and this is one of the most decadent varieties around.
Lotte is well known for their popular range of Yukimi Daifuku ice creams, which wrap mochi (pounded sticky rice) around bite-sized servings of ice cream in small two-pack servings. This matcha-and-chocolate combination looks just like their Yukimi Daifuku range, only without the brand name and with a more luxurious look, which extends to the sweets inside and the gold-coloured pick used to eat them.
This high-quality dessert comes with a dark chocolate mochi coating and a generous dusting of cocoa powder.
Inside is a thick and creamy matcha-flavoured ice cream, encased around a bittersweet syrupy matcha centre. The double chocolate coating and the double serve of matcha pack a deliciously intense hit of flavour designed for “adult palates.”
5. Kikyouya Shingen Mochi Waffle Cone (246 yen)
Shingen mochi is a Japanese dessert made from gyuhi, a soft type of mochi rice cake, which is sprinkled with plenty of kinako roasted soybean powder and a brown-sugar syrup topping. Yamanashi-based Kikyouya, founded in 1889, is one of the country’s most respected producers of shingen mochi, and the new Shingen Mochi Waffle Conewas created with the centuries-old company overseeing the production process.
The waffle cone contains “Kikyouya Shingen Mochi Flavour.”
All the same ingredients used in traditional shingen mochi can be found in this new frozen dessert, which looks absolutely beautiful with its swirls of kinako sauce and kinako-flavoured soft serve ice cream.
As you make your way through this ice cream, you’ll find swirls of gyuhi mochi rice contained within its layers. This surprising addition gives you a number of delightfully chewy moments in between the intense creaminess of the dessert, recreating the true flavours of shingen mochi in a sweet and crunchy sugar cone.
After making our way through some of the country’s most unique and flavoursome frozen desserts, we’re now absolutely sold on the eating-ice-cream-in-winter trend. And you can rest assured that this was not a sponsored post in any way, so all these recommendations come purely from field-testing out of our own pocket.
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