Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hojicha Kakikori Anmitsu at Kyo Hayashiya

Though it's still blazing hot every day, the sun is setting earlier and earlier, and now that it's September it won't be long before summer is really and finally over. I couldn't let a whole summer go by without having kakikori at least once, so on Sunday I headed over to Kyo Hayashiya in the Tokyo Midtown food basement to make a lunch out of what has to be the most gigantic and decadent pile of shaved ice in town.
Unlike the crunchy snow cones I used to get at the zoo when I was a kid, most kakikori here in Japan consist of ice so finely shaved that it melts instantly to nothing and has the same texture in the mouth as whipped cream. They're doused with a flavored syrup, which causes the outer layer to liquify dangerously. Here at Kyo Hayashiya, the only choices are different varieties of green tea or condensed milk, and I got hojicha, a type of green tea. But unlike your average bowl of shaved ice, this one comes with a ball of ice cream on top, and buried beneath the glacier there's a bowl of anmitsu - that's what's really exciting about this kakikori confection, besides its sheer height (it comes with an extra bowl, into which you can attempt to tip the upper half and thus avoid spilling it onto the tray - good luck!). Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese dessert consisting of cubes of agar jelly, red bean paste, and various other elements - here, the chewy little white balls made of rice flour, called shirotama, and the flabby green squares of warabimochi shown below. Somehow these Japanese flavors go perfectly with shaved ice, and it's nice to have something to sink your teeth into after consuming a mountain of melt-in-your-mouth ice. Though by the time I made it to bottom of the bowl, my tongue was so numb that I had to be really careful about chewing.
Tokyo Midtown Shop
Akasaka 9-7-3
Minato-ku, Tokyo

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