Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tokyo's Twist on Ice Cream

What's in the sealed tub to the right? I'll get to that in a moment.

The new issue of Travel & Leisure magazine has an article by Anya Von Bremzen entitled "Tokyo's Next Bite." In one neighborhood of Tokyo, there is an indoor mall of shops and attractions called Namjatown.

According to the article, one floor of Namjatown has a sweets shop-cum-theme park called Ice Cream City.

Sounds like a lovely metropolis, eh? Well, many of the ice cream flavors would cause an American to cringe. Von Bremzen writes:

After threading past some gelato stands . . . we raid Cup Ice Museum, a theme park within a theme park, for small cartons of the frozen stuff.

Among some 300 flavors on offer are Christmas Island salt, soy chicken, and preserved cherry blossom.

In the dainty tubs of pearl ice cream — today's top seller — customer's might chance upon a real pearl.

And who knew that eel ice cream could taste so compelling, with its caramely salty-sweet teriyaki kick and a dusting of sansho pepper?

I'm someone who enjoys eating unagi at sushi bars so no one can call me squeamish, but I must say that I would not order eel ice cream. I'm curious, but I'm not that curious.

But, as it turns out, eel is only one of the bizarre flavors of ice cream that are sold and served in Japan. If you can believe it, that tub of ice cream pictured above is octopus ice cream. That's right . . . . octopus.

Meat or seafood flavors just seem so bizarre and so wrong for ice cream. But I guess it depends on the hemisphere in which you live.

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