Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Random Japan - Black Sesame Ice Cream (and other desserts)

One thing that most American companies operating successfully in Japan have learned to do is cater specifically to Japanese tastes. That usually means some products that we in the west would probably find pretty wacky, maybe even unappetizing. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Haagen Dazs black sesame ice cream:

Let me tell you, I was skeptical too at first. I saw this stuff on previous trips to Japan and never even had a thought to want to try it. It was actually at a Japanese restaurant in New York (Saka Gura) where I got my first taste of a black sesame dessert, in creme brulée form. That dessert is now my favorite of all time, and I go to Saka Gura specifically for it.

Saka Gura's black sesame creme brulée actually comes with a dollop of homemade black sesame ice cream and a black sesame cookie. It's difficult to describe the taste of black sesame if you've never had it, but it's definitely "nutty" - it does taste like regular sesame, but almost as if it's been roasted. Somehow, its bitterness matches really well with sugar and milk - probably the best analogy for a westerner would be coffee.

Haagen Dazs' black sesame ice cream is not the best - it's not as good as Saka Gura's, and theirs is not even the main point of the dish - but I'd think it's probably the only way a lot of people will ever get to taste this kind of thing. You can get it at any Haagen Dazs store in Japan. My problem with it is that it's not mixed well, apparently on purpose; there are areas in the ice cream that are just nothing but black sesame paste, and there's too much of it. Every once in a while you just get a mouthful of bitter coffee ground-like nastiness. But once you learn to mix each spoonful a bit yourself beforehand, it gets pretty tasty.

Haagen Dazs actually has a whole bunch of flavors in Japan not commonly available here - blueberry, green tea (available in some areas of the US), "bitter caramel" and "rich milk" are some of the others. But black sesame is definitely the most exotic and the most acquired of tastes, and probably the most satisfying once you've mastered it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP