September is kind of a weird time for sweets in Japan. On the one hand, foodies are eager to enjoy fall flavors and seasonal ingredients, but it’s also still pretty hot and humid most days.
The solution many sweets fans settle on is sweet potato ice cream, which is why Häagen-Dazs brings out a new variety every year. The newest, which just hit convenience stores and supermarkets last Tuesday, is called Kanjuku Beniharuka, and we made sure to set aside time in our schedule, and space in our stomach, to try it right away.
At 295 yen, this isn’t exactly the cheapest ice cream option, but Häagen-Dazs has earned a reputation as being worth splurging on when it comes to their sweet potato flavors. We still have fond food flashbacks to last year’s version, the Mitsuimo Tart, with its golden glaze topping the cream.
▼ Last year’s Mitsuimo Tart flavor
If we’re being completely honest, though, we were disappointed when we opened the lid of Häagen-Dazs’s new Kanjuku Beniharuka.
Sure, our love for ice cream is so deep that it’s impossible for it to ever look bad to our eyes. The Kanjuku Beniharuka, though, is so simple and spartan-looking that it was kind of hard for us to get excited about the visuals, especially compared with those memories of last year’s two-layer treat.
But hey, it’s not like we’re not going to eat ice cream once it’s in front of us, so we grabbed a spoon…
…and instantly felt like idiots for doubting that Häagen-Dazs would deliver on its potato-y promises. Sure, from above the Kanjuku Beniharuka might look like a plain tub of cream, but that’s just because there are chunks of actual sweet potato hiding inside it.
As specified in the name, these are beniharuka sweet potatoes, a Japanese variety prized for its sweetness and dessert applicability. The kanjuku part of the name refers to picking produce at the optimal time, and our taste-tester K Masami confirms that the beniharuka bits are delicious, with a perfect fluffy yet crumbly texture.
The combined flavor with the cream is ideal too, as it’s sweet enough to satisfy your dessert cravings, but not so strong as to drown out the beniharuka, as you can still taste plenty of sweet potato in every bite.
Even by the high standards we’ve come to expect from Häagen-Dazs Japan, the Kanjuku Beniharuka is outstanding, Masami says. “This is, without question, one of the best sweet potato flavors they’ve ever released,” she gushes, making it a perfect way to straddle summer and autumn sweets, as well as a nice companion to Japan’s new beniharuka donuts.
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