Japan's Best Washoku-Inspired Ice Cream


There a  great number of delicious ice cream parlors throughout Japan.  Some are representative of their home prefecture, like Blue Seal, while others are brands borrowed from other countries.  Still, I bumped into a place in Ebisu in the heart of Tokyo that is one-of-a-kind, embracing the flavors and textures of Washoku (Japanese cuisine) as well as the country's love for seasonal foods.
Welcome, my dear readers, to the best ice cream in Japan: Japanese Ice Ouca.
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All of the flavors and ingredients are inspired by traditional Japanese cuisine.  Don't expect to find mint chocolate chip or rocky road.  Instead, Ouca offers flavors like Karintō (fried dough cake), Kinako (Roasted Soybean Flour), and Matcha (green tea).  Before you start to think, "Wow, that's too different for me," try to keep an open mind, because they are all fantastic flavors.  Of course, even if you are not a fan of those, you may be interested in their seasonal-inspired flavors.  Since it is strawberry season in Japan, there were three flavors dedicated to strawberries available.
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There a number of different ways to enjoy the ice cream at Ouca.  The standard is to get three flavors included in one cup (400 yen for smaller serving, 460 yen for regular size).   You can also opt for four flavors in both a large (720 yen) or special order size (prices vary).  You may decide instead to go for something else like a shake, a float, or an iced coffee (ice cream in coffee), or, if you're like me, you can go for one of the washoku dessert fusion options like "Cream Dango."
So what is "Cream Dango?"  You take two sticks of freshly cooked sweet Dango (mochi dumplings), cover them in fresh custard, offer a light dusting of sugar, and then torch it to caramelize the sugar.
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Next, place it nicely on traditional lacquerware, scoop some ice cream on top (in this case, Gyūnyū, or Milk flavor), and Voila! 
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There you have it: Japan's best Washoku-inspired ice cream.  Every bite was fantastic, and trust me, it did not last very long!
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Japanese Ice Ouca is located about five minutes from Ebisu station by foot.  It is currently open from 11:00 to 23:30 daily (peak hours are after dinner around 21:00). 
If you're in Tokyo and enjoy ice cream, you ought to make a pilgrimage to Ebisu's Japanese Ice Ouca--you'll be glad you did!

Mike B