【2018 Edition】10 Must-Eat Convenience Store Ice Creams in Japan, from Old Classics to Limited Seasonal Offers
The ice cream sections of Japanese convenience stores are full of delicious treats in colorful packages. You may be tempted to try them all, but that might be difficult. Instead, here are 10 of the best convenience store ice creams not to be missed!
1. Yukimi Daifuku
This is the original mochi ice cream (130 JPY (excl. tax) for a pack of 2). It consists of vanilla ice cream wrapped in gyuhi (soft Japanese confection made by kneading sticky rice flower with sugar or other sweeteners) and shaped like the traditional Japanese sweet, daifuku. It was first introduced as a winter sweet to be enjoyed in a warm room, and was even served at school lunches, but as of 2018 it is now available all year round. The chewy texture of the gyuhi is enhanced when soft, so wait a bit after purchasing before biting into it. There are usually two to three hearts on the pink fork that comes with it, but sometimes there are drawings other than hearts, so check to see what is on yours.
2. Azuki Bar 85ml
The Azuki Bar (100 JPY (excl. tax)) is made using traditional preparation methods and with no added scents, coloring or other additives. It is an ice cream bar packed with azuki beans that are not too sweet and have a light aftertaste. The bar is so hard that the official website warns customers to be careful not to damage their teeth. As a safety precaution, the company has launched a product to help crush the ice cream for easier consumption. It is a perennial favorite available at most convenience stores and supermarkets around the country, with sales reaching 275 million bars annually.
This is an ice cream bar with shaved ice inside that has a pleasant, crunchy texture that evokes the name "garigari" (a Japanese onomatopoeia for a crunching sound). It is reasonably priced at 70 JPY (excl. tax), with a chance to win another one if you get a winning stick. It comes in a variety of flavors, with new ones being introduced constantly. Some flavors in the GariGarikun Rich series, which is its premium series, are Melon-pan (melon bun) and the surprisingly popular Spaghetti Napolitan and Corn Potage flavors. Perhaps you'll find a shocking flavor that you can't help but try.
4. Choco Monaka Jumbo
This is an ice cream sandwich consisting of a chocolate bar covered in vanilla ice cream and surrounded by a monaka wafer. The combination of the aromatic monaka wafer, crunchy chocolate, and smooth ice cream is outstanding. This is such a treat with the wafer being filled to the edges with ice cream and chocolate in every bite, it's hard to believe it is only 140 JPY! No wonder it is so popular that more than 150 million are sold each year. It is a perennial favorite for both hot summer days and warm winter rooms.
This is an ice cream that originated in Kagoshima Prefecture and has been popular for over 70 years. Shaved ice with a generous amount of condensed milk is served with canned fruits, yokan (jellied dessert made from red bean paste, agar agar, and sugar), raisins, and azuki beans. Its appearance resembles a polar bear, thus the name "shirokuma", which means polar bear in Japanese. It is sold at convenience stores and, at 300 JPY, is a bit on the pricey side due to its luxurious toppings. Still, this is a refreshing ice cream treat with crunchy shaved ice, rich and sweet condensed milk, and plenty of fruit.
6. Suika Bar
This is an ice cream bar (108 JPY (incl. tax)) that looks like a piece of watermelon ("suika" in Japanese), down to the seeds and skin. It is a cute treat with red, watermelon-flavored ice cream, seeds made with puff chocolate and an edge colored in green to represent the skin. It is sold only at Seven-Eleven and there is also a version with the red and green switched. Like real watermelon, which is a fruit that represents summertime in Japan, this ice cream is only available during the spring and summer months.
7. Mix Berry Macaron Ice
This is an ice cream treat with the distinct texture of macarons, even when frozen! It comes in three gradients of pink—the blueberry macaron, strawberry ice cream, and raspberry macaron. The flaky yet moist texture unique to macarons and the fresh berry flavors make it a sweet that seems to belong in a high-end confectionery. At 248 JPY (incl. tax), it is priced on the high side for a convenience store. Quantity is limited, and it is only sold at Seven-Eleven, so be sure to pick one up if you see it.
These are ice cream balls (140 JPY (incl. tax)) made with plenty of fruit juice. Each bag has 12 cute balls of ice cream. Pop one in your mouth and the sweet gelato melts, filling your mouth with the rich flavors of fruit. It's almost just like eating a juicy piece of fruit! Photographed are the Kyoho grape and white peach flavors. Note that the available fruit flavors change each season.
9. Hi-Chew Ice Grape Flavor
This is the ice cream version (140 JPY (incl. tax)) of Hi-Chew, a soft candy popular for its chewy texture. True to its name, it re-creates the texture of Hi-Chew candies in an ice cream format. It is soft, fluffy yet chewy, and mixed with the flavors of grape sauce. You may get the illusion that you are actually eating a Hi-Chew candy. Even though this is ice cream, you can still enjoy the unique texture of Hi-Chew!
10. Häagen-Dazs Japonais <Azuki Kasane>
This is a Häagen-Dazs variety with truly Japanese flavors that is available only at Seven-Eleven. It comes with elegant azuki bean paste, creamy azuki ice cream, and a sorbet of salted condensed milk, plus has a refreshing aftertaste. There is also sweet kinako (roasted soybean flour) sauce layered in to add interest and to finish of this high quality, creative Japanese sweet. At 360 JPY (incl. tax), it is a bit on the pricey side, but it is an item only available in Japan that will reaffirm your faith in the Häagen-Dazs brand!
If you are in a convenience store while in Japan, be sure to check out the ice cream section and look for these wonderful items.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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