One of Japan’s most intriguing flavour pairings

In Japan, every prefecture boasts a number of local delicacies, as a result of each region having a specific topography, history, climate and terroir. In Okayama Prefecture, one of their most acclaimed specialties is kaki, or oysters, particularly in the coastal areas of Hinase and Yorishima, where “Kaki Oko” (Oyster Okonomiyaki) is a popular dish.

Now there’s another local treat vying for everyone’s attention in Hinase, and according to locals, it combines “milk from the land” and “milk from the sea”.

▼ Say hello to the Kaki Age Soft, aka Fried Oyster Soft Serve Ice Cream.

Our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami was keen to try the savoury-sweet combination for herself, so she headed down to where it was being sold, at a market called Gomi no Ichi (Five Flavours Market), located a 15-minute walk from Hinase Station.

As soon as Masami arrived, she was immediately drawn to the huge plastic replica of the unusual ice cream guiding her to the stall.

She handed over 300 yen (US$2.67) for one of the Fried Oyster Ice Creams, and noticed a sign placed outside the stall, with advice on how to eat the unusual sweet. According to its makers, the oysters should be eaten by hand and dipped into the soft serve with every bite.

Once she had the ice cream, she was immediately impressed by both its price and novelty value. Two plump, fresh oysters, with a soft serve cone for 300 yen was an absolute bargain.

Masami plucked one of the oysters out from its bed of soft ice cream and took a bite. Surprisingly, the creaminess of the oyster matched the mildness of the soft-serve brilliantly, and because the oysters weren’t piping hot, there was no danger of the ice cream melting into a mush all over her hands as she ate it.

This was nothing like what she had expected at all. It was actually really delicious, and she could finally understand the concept of combining “milk from the land” and “milk from the sea”, as all the creamy flavours melted on her tongue with every bite. The crunch from the fried casing added a wonderful contrast in texture, while the soy sauce topping brought the ice cream and oysters together with a perfect amount of rich saltiness.

The oysters themselves were superb, and Masami recommends you go as early as possible in order to get the freshest oysters available. It’s definitely worth the visit to try one of Japan’s most unique flavour pairings, and is a perfect side-trip for those on their way to or from the denim ice cream, burgers and steamed buns of Okayama’s historic Kurashiki district

Store Information
Gomi no Ichi / 五味の市
Address: Okayama-ken, Bizen-shi, Nissei-cho, Nissei 801-4
Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (earlier if sold out)
Closed Tuesdays (or Wednesday if Tuesday is a public holiday)

Photos © SoraNews24