Thursday, August 13, 2015

Six Fun Japanese Convenience Store Ice Creams

It has been so hot this summer, and you better believe I've been using that as an excuse to eat a lot of ice cream! In fact, I decided that my blog gave me the perfect excuse to "research" and try all the different ice creams I've seen over the years but never bothered to try. I tried to narrow it down to five because that seemed like a nice round number, but I really couldn't pick one to kick off the list, so here my list of six ice creams I've most enjoyed this summer.

6. Coolish

Ever heard of prepackaged soft-serve ice cream before? Before buying this I had no idea what it was, though I guess it's pretty obvious from the packaging. It's a little pouch of soft-serve with a spout at the top to suck the ice cream out of. It wins points for uniqueness and creativity, and they are constantly rotating new flavors. The quality is a little lacking, it's not the richest ice cream and the consistency is a little icy. (In fact, cheaper ice creams are often not true ice creams but ice milk - you'll see them labeled lacto ice "ラクトアイス") But it works in a pinch, and doesn't make a mess.

5. Zakrich (ゼクリッチ)

Ice cream sandwiches are sadly lacking in Tokyo, but there are a number of different ice creams that come wrapped up in a cone, but in a more sandwich-y shape. The Zakrich is a triangle shape, in a sugar cone, basically a choco taco. They come in assorted flavors - I chose vanilla with a layer of chocolate on top. It was pretty decent quality and very satisfying, even though this is also lacto ice. If you're more of a wafer cone person, there are also ice cream bars that are sandwiched up in that.

4. Pino

Pino gets on the list for it's adorable factor. It's a tray of six little balls of ice cream dipped in a coating - I chose chocolate, but there are often other flavors like raspberry or caramel, that you can eat with a little plastic skewer. This is a true ice cream, not a lacto ice, and you can tell it's better quality.

3. Shiro Kuma (しろくま)

Shiro kuma means white bear, and this ice cream is represented by a polar bear. This one is actually a lacto ice again, and it's noticeable thinner than ice cream, but because it has a mild yogurt flavor and is topped with fruits the texture works. I think it was genuinely meant to be a lighter dessert not just a cost saving effort, and it's very refreshing. I really enjoyed the fruit toppings, and the fact that the serving size is bigger than a lot of the other options even though the calorie count isn't significantly higher.

2. ChocoBari

I only discovered this ice cream over the past weekend, but wow is it good! From the wrapper I thought it would be like a good humor bar, but it turns out I don't know my Japanese. Baribari is the onomatopoeia word that means crunchy, and this mint chocolate ice cream bar, technically lacto ice, was coated in a a crunchy chocolate and toffee layer. The texture and flavor go together so well, and seem wonderfully summer-y. I found it in a Family Mart, and it's possible that's the only place they're sold as I haven't noticed them before.

1. Godiva Ice Cream

These are harder to find in the conbinis, 7-Eleven is probably the best shot but you're more likely to get them at a grocery store, and they're by far the most expensive at 400 yen for a single cup. But, they are oh-so-good! The ice cream is so rich and creamy, there's definitely no skimping here. And the flavors are so intensely chocolately. Definitely worth the indulgence.

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