Nestled in one of the back alleys of the Jizo Dori street in Sugamo lies our first kakigori stop. The ice being served here is made with the natural spring waters from underneath Mount Fuji, carefully frozen over a period of three entire weeks. Because of this process, the ice has a slightly higher density than regular ice, allowing for particularly thin shaves that will feel amazingly fluffy and light on your tongue! Our recommendation is the anno-imo flavor, or sweet potato, available for 700 yen. The sweet potatos from Kagoshima are naturally very sweet and this shop roasts them in a pot until they're soft and can be mashed to a paste which is then added to the syrup. A special peach flavor using peaches from Nagano is also an amazing kakigori experience, part of the shop's summer menu and available for 800 yen.
A mango sweets specialty store which is immensely popular in Taiwan has opened its very first store in Japan. Using Taiwan's finest apple mango fruits, Mango Cha Cha will tickle your tastebuds with an extremely unique and creative menu. One of their best dishes is the "Honey-Infused Deluxe" or "mitsu na kankei gokaban" as it is called in Japanese, for 2,970 yen. The kakigori, drenched in dark honey, is topped with plenty of fresh mango and mango ice cream, as well as little marshmallow hearts - amazing to look at and even more amazing to taste! This dish is so huge, it'll easily feed three to four people - but of course there's also a one-person-portion available for 920 yen.
Mango Cha Cha
Focusing mainly on Kagoshima's famed black pig, this restaurant serves shabushabu and tonkatsu made from the delicious pork. Another Kagoshima specialty is on the menu, however: shirokuma, literally polar bear, a kakigori creation that can be enjoyed for 800 yen. The beautiful little mountain of ice is topped with a very mild syrup, as well as little bits of seasonal fruits, such as grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. The small portion called koguma, or little bear, is available for 500 yen.
As far as traditional Japanese food goes, the kakigori made from the same water that the Nikko breweries use for their products is extremely popular. Serving this is Wa Kitchen Kanna. The ice is soft and fluffy and the taste is rather gentle. There is a classic menu available all year round as well as seasonally limited dishes, making up for around 20 items on the menu. The shop's bestseller is mizushiroko, a type of kakigori that is covered in sweet azuki bean paste for 1,000 yen. The ice itself is also infused with bean paste and black soybeans, and kakigori topped with thick purple sweet potato milk is also very popular (700 yen with pure water ice, 1,000 yen with spring water ice).
Wa Kitchen Kanna
Gion Tokuya has, as its name suggests, its headquarters in the famous, traditional district of Gion, Kyoto. Using only domestic warabi, or bracken starch, the shop has a lot of traditional Japanese sweets on its excessive menu. Some of the most famous ones are warabimochi, sticky rice cakes with bracken powder, or oshiruko, a sweet red bean soup. Delicious, homemade kakigori is also one of them. The most popular flavor is from 2015's summer menu, called "Wasanbongori" for 1,000 yen. Wasanbon is a type of fine-grained Japanese sugar that can be found in many Japanese sweets. The shaved ice is topped with agar-agar made from wasanbon from Tokushima and the syrup that is then poured over the kakigori brings out the flavor of the sugar really well.
Gion Tokuya Harajukuten
The one shop responsible for the mango kakigori boom in Thailand, Ice Monster, has opened its first location in Japan! This store recreates the genuine flavors of ingredients like fruits or black tea in their "flavor ice blocks". Since every ingredient is frozen in its very own way, the original and rich flavor is kept extremely well! Our special recommendation is the milk tea kakigori, topped with caramel sauce, panna cotta, and warm tapioca, called the "Tapioca Milk Tea Kakigori" for 1,000 yen. Or you can go full Taiwan-style and order the all-mango version!
ICE MONSTER OMOTESANDO
ICE MONSTER OMOTESANDO
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.