Japan sure loves its parfaits, and while they all come with tasty toppings, the most highly regarded come crowned with fruit. But what if you turned the concept on its head, and instead took a piece of premium produce, then added a cone’s worth of ice cream on top?
You’d have our newest dessert infatuation: the fresh melon soft serve.
Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is known for a number of local delicacies, including salmon and sea urchin. It’s also where you’ll find some of Japan’s biggest dairies, plus its most highly regarded growing region for melons.
The bright minds with sweet teeth at confectioner Sapporo Yaokyu decided to combine the powers of those last two when they created the fresh melon soft serve. Thankfully, we didn’t have to go all the way to Hokkaido to try it. Instead, we waited for the dessert to come to us, or at least to Tokyo, where the Furusato Matsuri is being held until January 18.
The event’s name translates as the Hometown Festival, but really it’s one of Tokyo’s biggest food fairs. Representatives coming from across Japan gather inside Tokyo Dome to serve meals and snacks to hungry visitors, and right in the middle of the floor space you’ll find the Hokkaishokudo, a cluster of restaurants from Hokkaido. They all looked delicious, but we passed by the local takes on ramen, seafood, and beer. Instead, we went straight to the Sapporo Yaokyu booth, where there was already a short line of people waiting to place their order.
▼ We’re not sure why Funasshi, the anthropomorphic pear from Chiba Prefecture, shows up on Sapporo Yaokyu’s signage.
As we waited for our turn, we noticed that the fresh melon soft serve is available in three sizes, small, medium, and large, priced at 1,000 yen (US$8.33), 1,300 yen ($11), and 1,500 yen ($12.78), respectively. With all of the tasty food offered at the event, we weren’t surprised that most people were asking for the small, but even though we were feeling pretty stuffed ourselves, we decided to buck the trend and get ourselves a large.
▼ Because even before we took a single bite, we knew we were going to want to eat as much of this as possible.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we don’t think that applies to desserts. After all, they don’t have covers in the first place. Sometimes you can tell you’re in for a taste treat just by looking at one, and that was clearly the message the striking contrast of orange-hued melon and pure white ice cream was sending us.
Really, the whole thing is so enticing we were tempted to just bury our face in it and start gnawing away. Just before we could do that, though, we remembered that we were in public, and, more importantly, that we had a spoon.
So how does it taste? Amazing, obviously! The refreshing sweetness of the melon and the richness of the ice cream hit your taste buds at the same time. The effect is incredible, and we’re not ashamed to say that for a moment, we found ourselves calling on some higher power to stop time so we could linger longer over the bliss the fresh melon soft serve was enveloping our consciousness with.
Sadly, time continued unabated, and before long we found ourselves running out of both melon and ice cream.
▼ Although as consolation, when the juices of the fruit mix with the melting cream it tastes fantastic.
The Furusato Matsuri runs until January 18, with the doors opening at 10 a.m. each day. Popular items like the fresh melon soft serve tend to sell out before the day is done, though, so just to be on the safe side, you might want to make the Sapporo Yaokyu booth your first stop.
▼ After all, a little fruit to start your day sounds like a sensible breakfast, doesn’t it?