Food & Drink | DESSERT WATCH

Pop-up Haagen-Daaz Sabo delivers with tea, ice cream and twists on the traditional

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing Writer

Plenty of food makers give their items a traditional Japanese makeover. It’s a well-worn trick, but a reliable one when a brand needs to get some attention from Japanese consumers. Now, Haagen-Daaz is getting into the game with a new pop-up store that merges its ice cream with Japanese desserts.

The Haagen-Daaz Sabo (tea room) opened on the sixth floor of Tokyu Plaza Ginza on April 18, and runs until May 6 (perfect Golden Week snacking). The spot offers a variety of desserts, utilizing six different kinds of ice cream flavors, with every item being a spin on a traditional sweet. They’ve got a vanilla dorayaki (¥980), strawberry soup (¥1080) and shiratama zenzai with green-tea-flavored ice cream (¥980). And they sell a variety of tea to compliment each dish.

Beverage on hand or not, these limited-time indulgences offer up a slightly more decadent takes on familiar dishes. Adding a scoop of ice cream to any dessert usually elevates it — another classic trick — and so it goes at the tea room. The dorayaki manages a nice balance of sweet and tart, while the strawberry soup really leans into the whole “strawberry” thing. If you’re seeking variation on the classics, Haagen-Daaz does a good job ramping them up.