I say “probably” because I haven’t been everywhere, have I? No one has. Also, I’m aware that this exact topic has been covered elsewhere a trillion and sixty-four times, so I’m under no illusion I’m forging new territory here. But if the internet has taught us anything it’s that the planet doesn’t want new territory; it wants top 5 lists of weird shit.
5. Squid Ink
I love me some squid. Ika, whether raw or in jerky form, is definitely in my top-whatever number of foods in Japan. Likewise, I have also been known to dabble in the enjoyment of the occasional soft serve. It sounds like a marriage made in culinary heaven, right?
Yeah well, I had my doubts going in to it because I also love my grandmother and death metal; but not at the same time. Also, this is “ikasumi” we’re talking about. Not the delicious bit of the squid but the ink.
As it turns out, ikasumi ice cream is equally delectable, and weirdly enough (it could be just me) the unique colour of the soft serve creates an oddly perceived texture that I just couldn’t help pulling in the general direction of my mouth.
Let’s be honest, natto smells like you ran a marathon, put your socks in your pants, ran another marathon, and then took a shit on them. It also reminds me of Gremlins hatching when I watch it being eaten.
The good news is that you can enjoy natto and its health benefits without having to endure the aroma by indulging in natto ice cream. It’s common to mix matcha ice cream with the fermented monstrosity to be enjoyed by semi-normal people (by common I mean not common, unless you’re a bit of a weirdo).
What is natto?
3. Bitter Melon
As the name suggests bitter melon is a melon that is bitter, and that should be where we leave the subject alone. However, Japanese people (including those close to me who also love natto and yet I trust them anyway) seem to think bitter melon, or “goya” is the absolute bizness. The southerners in Okinawa sometimes even give credit to bitter melon when explaining their relative longevity to the rest of the planet.
Like natto, it possesses the double-edged duality of being both wholly nutritious and fucking disgusting. So yeah, let’s make an ice cream out of it!
Disclaimer; I’ve never actually tried this ice cream and it might be delicious. “Probably” not though.
Shirasu, or whitebait, ice cream is absolutely delicious. Really, it is.
In fact, if you don’t believe me, you can try it for a minimal fee at the world’s largest and busiest seafood market; Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.
Actually, there’s another soft serve flavour you might want to keep your eye out for when visiting Tsukiji…
We all know about whales in relation to Japan so nobody needs to call an environmental hotline. I don’t need to cover the issue (there’s plenty of uneducated comments on related Facebook posts for that). I’m not even saying I had some. I’m just saying it exists. Because it does.
BONUS: While we’re on the subject of whales and ice cream, here’s a happy little story about the role certain whale by-products played in the first ice cream recipe (I’d call it; Ice Cream: The Origin of Faeces, but that borders on plagarism, not to mention it’s kind of gross and slightly-misleading).
So there you have it, another arbitrary list that is equal parts informative and pointless.