There is no doubt that people around the world consider Japan and its customs a little strange, though many people in Japan are likely thinking the same thing about other countries.
Still, to many, strangeness can be found there, and one of the most interesting ways to explore this is through their ice cream options that are often overlooked. The following are some of the weirdest ice flavors you must try in Japan.
Squid ink is consumed throughout Japan, so it makes sense that someone figured out a way to use it in a sweet treat. Now, squid ink or ikasumi started as nothing more than a novelty flavor; it was just something to delight daring ice cream eaters, but the flavor caught on. The ice cream looks pitch black, and it does have a fishy taste, so make sure you keep that in mind if you are going to give it a try.
The people in Japan eat Miso often to add flavor to various of dishes, such as soups. The ingredient is quite popular, and it is made out of soybeans, but there is a bit of a catch. The soybeans are fermented, which means the flavor is not only salty but a little tangy. The good thing about this ice cream is that it is filled with a lot healthful probiotics.
Seaweed is an important staple in the Japanese diet. Most cooks in Japan know how to work with the seaweed varieties in the country. Don’t be surprised when you see green-colored ice cream in ice cream shops that use these nutrient-dense vegetables. You are going to see flavors like kombu, wakame, or even nori, so go ahead and be bold.
Okay, out of all the things that have come out of Japan, many could argue that soy sauce has become quite popular around the world. Most people use this savory sauce to make some of their favorite Asian-flavored dishes, but the truth is that some Japanese ice cream makers are a little more adventurous with the sauce. The sauce has been used as an ice cream topping. It is like a caramel alternative since it is quite salty.
The purple sweet potato or beni-imo may not be popular around the world, but it is definitely known in Japan. The ingredient grows in the Okinawan islands, and it has an earthy taste that blends in with the sweetness of the ice cream. The purple from the sweet potato makes the ice cream look quite fun since it is pretty bright, and the flavor is something you won’t forget.
Okay, wasabi is usually paired with sushi, and it is quite spicy. It is something you probably wouldn’t connect to ice cream, yet you are going to find that in Japan. You can find wasabi candy in the country, so finding this flavor of ice cream isn’t too strange. The ice cream is pretty sweet, and it comes with a surprising spicy aftertaste that is going to excite your taste buds like never before.
Buckwheat tea is a tea like no other. As you know, teas are drunk in Japan regularly, so it makes sense that someone would have attempted to make tea a little sweeter. You have probably added a little honey to some of your favorite tea flavors and loved the result. Buckwheat tea or soba-cha is a common tea that when made into ice cream, might remind people of a sugary cereal. Now, the ice cream does look a little dark, and that might put some people off, but the flavor is pretty tame compared to some of the more robust flavors on this list.
The bitter melon is an ingredient that grows in the Okinawa region, and it is quite bitter. If you taste bitter melon in its natural state, you are going to have an interesting experience. The idea of combining bitterness with sweetness is not too difficult to understand. Many places around the world use lemon and lime to make sweet desserts. Japan has found a way to make sweet melon taste amazing. Those who are adventurous enough are going to find out what others in Japan love about this unique ice cream flavor.
Tofu is pretty popular, and you know it is made out of soymilk, but did you know that the skin that forms at the top of soymilk when it is heated is also consumed? The skin is called yuba, and many people in Japan consider it a bit of a delicacy. Part of the reason people love yuba in ice cream is because it is incredibly creamy, and that means your ice cream is going to be much creamier. Keep in mind that this flavor is not common everywhere, but you may find it in ice shops in Kyoto.
If there was one ingredient you probably weren’t thinking of as you read through this list, it is beans. Many people use beans in chili or in flavorful soups, but most wouldn’t think of using them in ice cream. Well, Japan has red bean ice cream. The paste is sweetened and is usually called anko. The paste has been used for centuries and originated from China. Japan adopted it, and it is used in various sweets, including cakes and ice cream.
Hopefully, some of these flavors interest you enough to give them a try if you travel to Japan. Each has something new to offer your taste buds. Just make sure you allow yourself to really enjoy the flavor because it is something you probably won’t be able to find easily outside of the country. That makes their ice cream flavors special.