Salty things are delicious on ice cream…but no one ever said anything about stinky things.

Meiji Essel Super Cup could be Japan’s most popular ice cream brand. It’s available at every supermarket and convenience store, costs about 100 yen (US$0.89) per cup, and comes in a myriad of yummy flavors, in a perfect portion size.

The Super Cup ice creams are delightful on their own, but the product’s official website also has a nice selection of ideas about what to pair their ice cream with. One of our Japanese language reporters, Anji, happened to be browsing this selection when she came across a strange suggestion: topping the Super Vanilla flavor with natto, the stinky fermented soybeans typically eaten with a Japanese breakfast.

Now, it sounds weird, and we were equally skeptical about the natto on pudding craze that went viral on the Japanese Internet last year, but that turned out to be fairly tasty. “How different could it be on ice cream?”Anji thought, “And besides, if the manufacturer recommends it, it must be pretty good!” She decided to give it a try.

The “recipe”, if you can even call it that, is really simple; all you need is one Super Cup Super Vanilla, one package of natto, and the sauce that comes with the natto.

To prepare the recipe, simply pour the sauce over the natto, mix well, and pour the whole thing (or a desired amount) over your ice cream.

▼ It looks…kind of good? I mean, if you didn’t know it was natto, you might think it was a peanut sauce or something…

Anji is someone who likes natto, so she wasn’t going into this worried about the flavor of the natto. Of course, she likes vanilla ice cream too. However, just because you like two things doesn’t mean they should be combined together. That is what Anji was thinking as she apprehensively dipped a spoon into her bowl and brought it up to her mouth…

…but to her surprise, it actually wasn’t that weird! The sweet and spicy flavor of the sauce actually melded well with the vanilla ice cream, and it almost tasted like mitarashi dango, a popular Japanese sweet. The vanilla ice cream also overpowers most of the natto flavor, so you don’t get much of it with any one bite. Anji guessed that, since the natto flavor is so faint, even people who don’t like it would be fine eating this.

And yet, Anji said that, if given the option, she would not choose to eat it again. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t “delicious” either. In particular, she really couldn’t understand why Meiji’s website would specifically recommend this pairing, especially when most of their other recommendations were ordinary toppings, like coffee or red bean paste. Anji could sort of see the appeal, since it’s kind of fun to have sticky ice cream, and it’s kind of fun to eat natto that is nice and cold, since it’s normally eaten at room temperature.

But that was about the extent of what was interesting about it. In the end, there was nothing really special about the combination of natto and vanilla ice cream. If the appeal was about the sweet and salty flavor, then why not just add the sauce to ice cream and leave it at that? Or just skip the natto altogether, and pour some soy sauce over vanilla ice cream?

Give it a try if you’re interested, she says, but if you want a truly delicious, unorthodox ice cream topping, try bonito fish flakes. It sounds weird, but we promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Images © SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]