Food & Drink

Tokyo serves up some frozen delights

by Megan Green

Staff Writer

Ice cream and gelato has been the go-to for cooling refreshments for centuries, evolving from the Romans eating fruit-juice flavored snow to the vanilla, chocolate chip and other popular dairy-rich products we see today. But who says we have to stick to the regular flavors? This summer, several limited-edition frozen desserts have been released just in time for Japan’s soaring temperatures.

For those who love Japanese sake, Gelateria Marghera in Azabu-juban has teamed up with Aramasa Shuzo, one of Japan’s oldest sake brands, to create a sake gelato, which it is offering by the cup, cone, in a crepe or — if you’re in the mood for a bigger hit — as an affogato (the espresso is replaced with a shot of sake).

Aramasa Shuzo was founded in 1852 in Akita Prefecture and its sake contains no additives (some sakes have extra added alcohol and other ingredients). Such sake is believed to have many health benefits, including lowering high cholesterol and blood pressure levels — so this one of those rare occasions that you could try and claim that having dessert is a healthy option.

The Aramasa Shuzo gelato is just one of several limited-edition flavors that Gelateria Marghera are promoting to celebrate its third anniversary in Japan. Other flavors include various tropical ones, all made from fresh fruits organically grown in different parts of Japan.

Really cold sake: Gelateria Marghera
Really cold sake: Gelateria Marghera’s Aramasa Shuzo gelato may look simple, but made with high-grade sake, it has a flavorsome kick.

You’ll find acerola, guava, passion fruit, an apple-mango blend and more, all of which are available at all Gelateria Marghera’s branches until Aug. 14. The sake flavor, however, is an extra-special edition, only available at the Azabu Juban shop. Small scoops of gelato are ¥550 each, large scoops are ¥650. For an extra ¥200, you can turn the sake gelato into an “affogato.”

Dominique Ansel Bakery in the Omotesando district has also created an icy sake-flavored dessert, though of a slightly sweeter variety. This summer, the well-known pastry shop has invented two unusual soft-serve ice creams, one of which is flavored with amazake (traditional sweet low alcohol sake) and topped with ginger and a sprinkling of sansho (Japanese pepper) leaves.

Dominique Ansel Bakery is from New York and is famous for its cronuts (a cross between a croissant and a doughnut), so the Japanese sake flavor makes for an unusual departure.

Sweet stuff: Dominique Ansel Bakery
Sweet stuff: Dominique Ansel Bakery’s amazake soft-serve ice cream (left) is topped with ginger and sansho pepper leaves, while its corn-flavored version (right) is dotted with blobs of corn jam.

The establishment’s other limited-edition soft serve is sweetcorn-flavored and topped with blobs of corn jam. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, opt for the Creme de a Corn. This is the same corn ice cream, but served on a “cone” of a real corn on the cob, which is seasoned with butter and salt for a sweet and savory combination. The soft serve ice cream in regular cones are ¥694, while the Creme de la Corn is ¥1,000. All these summer treats are available until Sept. 30.

Last in the unusual lineup of chilled sweets is being served at the Tokyo hotel Grand Hyatt’s steakhouse The Oak Door. There you will find the bizarre Ice Burger. Yes, it actually does look like a meaty burger with a side of fries and ketchup. Don’t worry, though, it’s not a frozen beef patty.

Where
Where’s the beef? The Oak Door at Tokyo’s Grand Hyatt hotel is serving a sweet Ice Burger that looks pretty convincing, even when lined up next to real beef ones.

Between two brioche buns topped with chocolate and dotted with tiny chunks of almonds, there’s a fat slab of raspberry ice cream, slices of strawberries, blueberries and a layer of custard. The fries are crispy pastry cinnamon sticks and the ketchup is a raspberry dip. Perhaps more conventional in flavor, but definitely the most unusual in presentation. The Ice Burger costs ¥2,200 and will be on The Oak Door’s menu until the end of August.

For more information, visit: Gelateria Marghera: gelateriamarghera.jp Dominique Ansel Bakery: dominiqueanseljapan.com Grand Hyatt The Oak Door: restaurants.tokyo.grand.hyatt.co.jp/oak-door-restaurant

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