No matter where you go in Japan, you will find something that they call “soft cream”, described as silky and smooth. In English, we call it simply as “soft serve ice cream,” the soft ice-cream served on a wafer-cone which we hurriedly enjoy before it trickles down our fingers 😊 Yes, that’s the one I am talking about! I am sure it is available and popular in many countries but what makes the ones in Japan so special? Well, it is the flavours and its association with a particular region of Japan.
There are so many different flavours and a lot of people would probably be familiar with the standard vanilla, chocolate or the green tea matcha flavours, but only in Japan, you would find the unusual purple coloured ones, the fruity melon or the soy sauce flavour! Yes, indeed – the soy sauce! These varieties, I am told, is related to a region which has their own speciality, for example:
Kyoto – Match green tea because of its association with Uji, producer of superior quality matcha tea;
Furano – Melon, a region famous for its fruits;
Kamakura – Purple sweet potato
Tokyo – Tofu & Amazake
Kyushu – Yoghurt Ice
So, my mini adventure with the “soft cream” took place on a very hot afternoon after visiting Fushimi Inari in Kyoto and climbing (and down) of those 4000 or so bright orange Torii gates. I was drawn to this one shop front that had yuba ice cream and various different coloured ones. It had a long line of visitors waiting to be served…so figured the “soft cream” must be good? Correct? Well, I decided to join the queue and try it anyways. I could have a combination of two flavours or a single flavour. Two scoops. All for 400 Yen. I definitely did not want to try the green tea flavour (had already tried before on many occasions in Kyoto), so I opted to try something different and exotic, a combination of yuba soft cream and the Murasaki Imo, the purple sweet potato.
Yuba is a soy milk skin that is created on the surface when the soy milk is boiled, so the yuba soft cream is flavourful and tastes like thick soy milk. It was tasty. The Murasaki Imo or the purple sweet potato was mellow with a gentle sweet taste and creamy, but not overly creamy. It was not overbearingly sweet like most Japanese desserts. It did not have the strong flavour of the orange yams or the yellow sweet potato and it certainly was not bland. It does take a little time to settle on your palate, especially when you are working through the silky smooth yuba and a tad stronger but mild silky smooth root vegetable.
The combination was interesting and was indeed refreshing, An exotic flavour and tasty soya combined with some sweet mild flavour with a hint of potato. I would highly recommend that you try this exquisite flavour when you visit Japan. You will not be disappointed.