Summer in Japan may be hot, humid, and sticky, but there is a sweet silver lining, with sweltering temperatures comes the excuse to eat plenty of ice cream. Here are 5 awesome ice cream shops to try in Tokyo!
Daily Chico, Nakano Broadway
A tiny ice cream shop nestled on the basement floor of Nakano Broadway, an otaku paradise brimming with anime goods and pop culture collectibles, has made a big name for itself with its colossal, 8-layer soft serve ice cream cone at a bargain price of 550 yen. The towering ice cream made up of swirls of strawberry, coffee, milk, chocolate, matcha, banana, grape, and ramune soda is deliciously soft and creamy.
I particularly liked the more noticeable flavours of coffee, chocolate, and banana. Just be a little weary of its precarious structure, despite being indoors the ice cream melts very fast and patrons eat their ice cream standing near the store. I must admit it wasn’t just the summer heat that had me sweating! Don’t get too carried away taking your perfect sweet snap, as you might have an ice cream avalanche on your hands.
Dobutsuen ‘The Zoo’, Harajuku
Previously a smaller outfit with a set up like a vending machine, ‘the smallest zoo in the world’, Dobutsuen, moved to a new location just 100m away. This store offers a new menu of their signature cute animal cones alongside baby bottle and light bulb sodas and ice cream tacos. The store is choc-full of kawaii, their own branded merchandise, and even comes with a dedicated candy pink photo background to make your ice cream snaps the instagram envy of your friends.
This ice cream zoo offers various animals and flavours in a single scoop cones for 500 yen – tiger (blueberry and cheesecake), elephant (vanilla, strawberry, and soda), pig (strawberry), chicken (vanilla), panda (cookies and cream), rabbit (strawberry sponge cake). Bigger more expensive cones were three pigs (random), and chicken family (vanilla and orange).
I tried the pig ice cream, which came to me as pretty as the picture. Since I thought that this ice cream was more for novelty than anything else I was pleasantly surprised by how rich, fresh and flavourful the strawberry ice cream was. I enjoyed the attention to detail in the form of the pig’s marshmallow ears and nose, something I saw in other cones such as the panda with its Oreo ears.
Situated just a stones throw away from Sensoji Temple in traditional area of Asakusa, Suzukien offers what is said to be the richest matcha ice cream in Tokyo. I arrived at the shop at 11am on a Monday and it was already crowded with people, a testament to the shop’s fantastic reputation. The shops sells matcha (green tea) ice cream in varying levels of intensity listed from the least strong No. 1 to the most intense No. 7. They also other flavours including adzuki bean (red bean), strawberry, hochija (roasted green tea), brown rice tea, Japanese black tea, black sesame, and mango sorbet.
I ordered a double cone with hochija and matcha no. 7 so I could compare different flavours of ice cream. The matcha ice cream was a vibrant shade of dark green. I have tried strong matcha ice creams before, but they have often have had an overwhelming bitter taste, here the matcha was perfectly balanced with a slight bitterness paired with sweetness. The hochija also provided a nice contrast, with its sweet, roasted, nutty taste.
Melting In The Mouth, Hiroo
The trendy neighbourhood of Hiroo has a kind of hipster vibe to it filled with juice bars, chilled-out cafes, ethnic restaurants, and burger joints. Here sits a cute little store with fun phrases adorning the walls, selling hot dogs, milkshakes, donuts, and their signature vanilla ice cream cone. This teeny cone filled with a perfect swirl of cloud like ice cream was an enjoyable treat. Despite it’s small size it was delightful due to its creamy, organic milky richness. A lot of studies have gone into making this little cone, with the makers insisting that people prefer this size of ice cream (125g) and shape. If you’re feeling particularly peckish their hot dogs aren’t bad either!
Croquant Chou Zaku Zaku, Harajuku
Takeshita Street in Harajuku is full of all kinds of foodie delights, giant UFO candy floss, cream-filled sweet crepes, and among them sits the Croquant Chou Zaku Zaku pastry shop. As well as selling to die for crispy, pastry puffs filled with delicious fresh custard cream, they also sell delicious soft serve ice cream, in a crunchy wafer cone, made from milk from premier dairy producing region Hokkaido. The ice cream is really light and sweet, and the quality of the dairy used really comes through.
Tokyo has so many great ice cream places that it’s hard to pick just a handful. It’s not hard to find an excuse to eat ice cream in the sweltering heat of the Japanese summer, but remember ice cream can be enjoyed all year round. Don’t forget to check out your local convenience store for delicious and affordable sweet treats too!