The Japanese market is absolutely spoilt when it comes to limited edition flavours by world-renowned companies, and this summer looks to be no different, with Häagen-Dazs bringing out two new types of ice cream just in time for the hottest season of the year. The Salty Vanilla and Caramel and the Japonais Black Syrup Kinako Red Bean are so unique they’re said to contain ingredients that the world has never seen before from the well-respected brand. We headed out and picked up a tub of each for a first-hand tasting.
While the 110-milliter Salty Vanilla and Caramel (left) comes in a taller, thinner tub, the 108-millilter Japonais line of ice creams comes in slightly wider, shallower packs.
We start the tasting with the limited-edition Salty Vanilla and Caramel ice cream, which uses high-quality rock salt sourced from France. While salted caramel chocolates and sweets have become hugely popular recently, Häagen-Dazs is taking things in a different direction by adding salt to the vanilla ice cream instead, which is a first for the company.
Immediately upon opening, it’s evident that the creamy, salty vanilla flavour is the star component of the dessert here, with only a hint of the caramel visible on the surface. The first spoonful is deliciously salty, hitting the tongue with enough intensity to bring the salivary glands to life instantly. Curious, we take another mouthful.
We’re surprised to see such little caramel in the dessert, and upon tasting the rich brown sauce, we’re even more surprised to find that it’s not even slightly salty. Instead, it’s incredibly bitter, with a deep, burnt flavour that compliments the creamy vanilla wonderfully. The combination of vanilla and salt is a mouthwateringly delicious combination. The rich, decadent ice cream carries the salt onto the tongue, allowing it to spread all around the mouth, which has you quickly putting your spoon in for more.
The salt sits on your lips throughout the entire serving and for some time afterwards, leaving you smacking them with your tongue even after the dish is all but a distant memory. It’s the perfect remedy for a hot day when your body is crying out for a replenishment of lost salts.
Next, we move on to the newest offering in the Japonais line of luxury ice cream. First appearing on the frozen dessert scene back in 2013, the limited-edition range concentrates on traditional Japanese flavours and is sold exclusively at 7-Eleven convenience stores around the country.
The new flavour in the range this year is the “Black Syrup Kinako Adzuki” ice cream, which features the flavours of bitter-sweet brown sugar syrup, toasted soybean flour, and adzuki red beans.The beautifully glossy sauce is made from kinako toasted soybean flour and has a thick, jelly-like texture. Underneath the sweet and nutty glaze lies a thick layer of creamy vanilla ice cream.
Further down, beneath the top two layers, is a base filled with jewel-like whole adzuki red beans, which bring an earthy taste and chewy texture to the dish. The base flavour, a brown sugar syrup sorbet, is a worldwide first for Häagen-Dazs. Filled with a sweet, malty flavour similar to molasses, turning the traditional Japanese syrup into a sorbet adds a creative element to the dessert, bringing a refreshing, coarse texture to every mouthful.
A cross-section shows the three different layers of the dessert more clearly. When eaten together, the dessert is a textural sensation, with the top jelly melding with creamy vanilla and playing off the coarse black syrup sorbet and chewy beans.
The new ice cream lives up to its Japonais name with a distinct Japanese flavour. It tastes exactly like a traditional dessert, with strong flavours of kinako, black syrup and earthy red bean lingering on the tongue. Combined with the decadent creaminess Haagen Dazs is known for, this is a luxurious dessert that’s definitely worth stocking up on before they all sell out.
The Salty Vanilla and Caramel ice cream retails for 272 yen and is currently available at convenience stores and supermarkets around the country, while the Japonais Black Syrup Kinako Red Bean dessert is sold exclusively at 7-Eleven convenience stores for 360 yen.
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