Luxury ice cream maker treats diners in Japan to a green experience that stimulates all five senses.

Last month, Häagen-Dazs announced they would be opening a limited-time pop-up restaurant where diners would be able to enjoy the same green tea blend used in their luxurious matcha ice cream, reproduced in a full-course menu spanning cocktails, sandwiches and desserts.

Called Matcha Salon, the new pop-up eatery marks 35 years of Häagen-Dazs in Japan, and everything on the menu has been prepared the supervision of restaurateur Daisuke Kaneko, who is the chef owner of two French cuisine-inspired restaurants in Tokyo.

▼ Matcha Salon is located next to the iconic Maman Spider Sculpture at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo.

We were keen to find out what the experience would be like, so we booked ourselves a table and when we arrived, we found ourselves stepping into a very sophisticated-looking space, with the colour green taking centre stage.

We settled in to enjoy our six-course meal of matcha, which promised to stimulate the diner’s sense of sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch.

First to arrive at our table was the Green Tea and Lime Non-Alcoholic Cocktail. We took a sip and were instantly surprised by the way the bitterness of the matcha paired so well with the sourness of the lime. There was a slight carbonation that sparkled on the tongue, making it an incredibly refreshing drink.

Next to arrive was the Green Tea-Flavored Crispy Foie Gras Sandwich. We didn’t know what to expect with this one, given its name, but when it arrived, we realised there was no bread component to this sandwich.

The sandwich consisted of two crispy savoury wafers, made from foie gras, with a passionfruit jam centre and bitter matcha coating. The bittersweet flavours here were outstanding, and this was definitely the most unusual Häagen-Dazs offering we’d ever had.

▼ You won’t get a Häagen-Dazs like this at the local supermarket.

Next up came the Three Levels of Richness Matcha Tiramisu. Delicately displayed on silver teaspoons, which showed the light-to-dark matcha gradation of each different tiramisu, these were an absolute delight. Not only did they look beautiful, but they really showcased the taste of matcha, with a smoothness that coated the tongue, allowing you to taste varying strengths of green tea, from level one to six to 12.

Then came one of the highlights of the meal, with the Matcha Gelatin Cloaked in Darkness. This plate provided us with the most substantial course so far, and came with an impressive production of its own, as a small cloth over the bowl was lit, creating a bowl of flame at the table.

Once the flame had subsided, the bowl revealed itself, with its green contents consisting of kiwi fruit, muscat grapes, and citrus peel, all covered in a gelatin sauce made from rich green matcha. The fruit and green tea combination was spectacular, and we made a mental note to try it at home, albeit without the flame component.

Then came the Supreme Bliss Green Tea Häagen-Dazs, which was another treat for the senses. Once it had been placed on the table, the waiter activated the dry ice on the lower plate, sending plumes of smoke out around it. This dramatic course actually turned out to be the perfect palate cleanser, and a lovely nod to their green tea ice cream, which was the first Japan-exclusive flavour ever produced by the company, back in 1996.

Finishing off the six-course meal was the simply named Japanese Green Tea with Matcha, served in a white teacup.

The six-course Matcha Salon menu costs 2,900 yen (US$26) per person, and after dining there, we reckon it’s worth every yen. Some things to note, though, are that seating is by prior website reservation only, and the full course takes one hour to complete, with only eight sessions offered per day, beginning with the 11 a.m.-12 p.m. timeslot and ending with the 9:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. timeslot. Check-in at the reception desk begins 30 minutes prior to seating, which is when the bill will need to be paid, in cash only.

The Matcha Salon will only be open from 24 April to 5 May, after which time we’ll have to make do with the Matcha Cheese Cookie Ice Cream to satisfy our green tea Häagen-Dazs cravings.

Restaurant information
Häagen-Dazs Matcha Salon
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi 6-10-1, Roppongi, Hills Hillside 2nd floor (Hills Cafe/Space)
東京都港区六本木6-10-1 六本木ヒルズ ヒルサイド2階 「ヒルズ カフェ/スペース」
Open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Photos © SoraNews24
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