Snowman Ice Cream

In Japan, Baskin Robbins is called “31 Ice cream.”   Even though the name has changed, the ice cream is just as delicious and the people of Japan can’t get enough of this American original.  In fact, Japan now has over 1,000 stores all over the country, over 20 of which have been remodeled in 2012, which make a combined 735,000,000 yen per year ($9,423,076 USD).  That’s a whole lotta ice cream!

During summer, 31 Ice Cream always runs a Yuki Daruma (Snowman) Ice Cream campaign.  You can choose one jumbo scoop and one kid’s scoop of ice cream which forms the shape of Japan’s two tiered snowmen. 

When Khoa and I saw the posters for yuki daruma ice cream, we had to give it a try.  Sure, the flavor of the ice cream isn’t changed at all, but there’s something about snowman ice cream that beckoned us to buy it…it’s so dang cute!  So we waited in line and perused the katakana laden menu for the perfect ice cream combination.  Green tea, blood orange passion sorbet, cream soda, chocolate oreo…how could we choose? After much debate and awkward deciphering of English words written in Japanese, we decided on the layers of our snowmen. 

I ordered a choko minto kukki chamu (chocolate mint cookie chum [basically, mint chocolate chip ice cream with cookie dough!!!]) and kyarameru ribon (caramel ribbon).  Khoa was ready to give ordering his ice cream a try, but gave it a second thought after hearing me struggle through that mess of vowels.  He asked me to order him a remon kuranberi chi-zu ke-ki (lemon cranberry cheesecake) and banana ando sutoroberi (banana and strawberry).  Here’s the results:

Michelle’s Snowman Ice Cream

 

Khoa’s Snowman Ice Cream

I have to tell you, both of my ice cream choices were delicious!  Mint chocolate chip with cookie dough?  Brilliant!!!  And the only thing that could have improved my caramel ribbon ice cream with its still gooey layers of caramel would be the addition of pralines.  Khoa enjoyed his lemon cranberry cheesecake ice cream with real bits of cheesecake and his favorite flavor combo, strawberry and banana.      

 

After consuming a jumbo and kid’s size scoop of ice cream plus the cone, we were on sugar overload and regretted being so overzealous in our ice cream choice.  But c’mon, it’s an ice cream cone shaped like a snowman…how can you pass that up?  At the time, I told myself I’d never get another yuki daruma ice cream, but I know I’m going to instantly forget that promise the next time I see the adorable posters advertising this overly sweet treat.

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The best sushi we’ve ever eaten

Zen Sushi.
The best sushi we’ve ever had.

Hidden down a road, a little ways from the main port of Nishinoshima, is a tiny sushi restaurant.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. Approaching the front of the establishment, you can even see the owner’s laundry hanging to dry in the upstairs window. But inside, Zen Sushi will amaze you.

A little mom and pop establishment, the owners prepare fresh sushi made with fish caught in the waters of the Oki Islands. Peering through the front windows, you can enjoy views of the turquoise waters that these fish call home.

The sushi we ate here is hands down the best sushi we’ve ever eaten. Here are a few photos of the wonderful food we enjoyed:

Zen Chirashi-zushi (ちらし寿司)
The house special chirashi-zushi.
Think of this as deconstructed sushi. It’s a bowl of seasoned rice topped with sashimi and other garnishes.
Beautiful!
The brightly colored spheres are ikura, salmon roe.
Onigiri with the perfect amount of wasabi. Just enough to give you a bit of a kick, but not so much that it overwhelms your palette. Delicious!
What I love most about sushi is the freshness of the dish. (Traditionally) it isn’t smothered in sweet sauces or doused in spices like many western dishes. When eating sushi, you are able to taste each ingredient. The vinegar of the rice, the saltiness of the fish, and the kick of the wasabi. So simple. So pure. So deceivingly difficult to get right.
Mozuku, a type of stringy, slimy Japanese seaweed. It’s flavored with vinegar to give it some extra slimy goodness. One of our friends told us that last year, the mozoku didn’t grow well, but this year there are tons of it. We’ve already encountered it twice while eating at restaurants on the islands.
An interesting design on the barrier separating the two tatami dining areas.
Beautiful Nishinoshima.
Waiting to take the boat.
The perfect end to a great day: tiramisu ice cream on the boat back to Chibu.

Japanese Ice Cream

We have been eating ice cream a lot lately.  Maybe it’s because the weather is warming up (although we’ve been known to enjoy ice cream while it’s snowing outside…every season is ice cream season, isn’t it?).  Maybe it’s because there are so many new and exciting flavors being carried at the general store.  Or maybe it’s because we are just crazy for the goodness of cream, milk, and sugar.  Whatever the reason, here’s a second post about Japanese ice cream.    

 

Our new discovery is Panapp.  They come in several different flavors (grape, strawberry, matcha, and caramel macchiato).  We’ve seen this type of ice cream in the general store for quite a while now, and only recently decided to try it.  Panapp, at first glance, is just a cup of ice cream.  It doesn’t even come with a spoon; that you have to provide on your own.  But what is lacks in excitement (and spoons), it makes up for in swirls of flavor!

In the strawberry version, there are swirls of white chocolate and strawberry mixed into vanilla ice cream.  The white chocolate is a thin layer of hardened chocolate while the strawberry part is a fruity strawberry jam.  You get the perfect ratio of creamy ice cream, crunchy white chocolate, and sweet strawberry in every bite.

The caramel macchiato version marries coffee ice cream with swirls of caramel and hardened chocolate.  It tastes just like a caramel macchiato.  The caramel is still gooey and buttery and the chocolate gives the ice cream a nice, crunchy contrast. 

 

I’m more of an ice cream cone kind of girl, but Panapp is too good to pass up.  Give it a try if you see it at the store.  We both prefer the caramel macchiato one 😛