If you think these are ikura fish eggs, you’re wrong!

If you ask us to rank our favorites from the admittedly not-so-wide pool of gelatinous, ball-shaped cuisine, tapioca would definitely be in our top three. The squishy balls make such a perfect addition to all kinds of desserts and even beer. But even more than tapioca, we love ikura, or fish roe (eggs). These orange salty, fishy balls pop between the teeth, releasing a squirt of juice onto the tongue. We especially love ikura don, or rice bowls topped with mounds of ikura (the more ikura, the better!)

So, when we heard that you can get a tapioca don with pickled tapioca, which looks just like an ikura don, we were intrugued and immediately headed to Fuji Soba in Shinjuku for a taste-test.

The restaurant has a ticket machine outside with buttons you can push to select your food.

Immediately, we spotted it – the “Ikura-style” mini pickled tapioca don set with soba on the side.

At 560 yen (US$ 5.26), it was a pretty reasonable serving size, especially when you consider that actual fish eggs would be much more expensive.

The meal was served in styrofoam bowls, with cut up nori seaweed on top of the tapioca in an ikura-don style.

The orange gelatinous balls were definitely enough to fool even the most discerning diner. This looks 100 percent like fish eggs.

However, when our taste-tester, Mr Sato, bit into his first bite of pickled tapioca on rice, he was stunned. He had been expecting the chewy texture of tapioca balls like you would usually find in bubble tea, but Fuji Soba’s tapioca balls were softer. Perhaps to avoid contrasting too much with the texture of the rice, the balls had clearly been soaked in soy sauce to soften them up.

The taste was mostly that of soy sauce on rice, since tapioca itself doesn’t have a very distinct flavor, and it had clearly been steeped in soy sauce as part of the “pickling” process. Mr. Sato found himself guzzling every last ball of tapioca and daydreaming about tapioca sushi.

Mr. Sato certainly enjoyed his tapioca treat and, like us, he’s loving this tapioca boom that’s going on at the moment. Now we’re wondering if ikura-style tapioca will be introduced at Harajuku’s Tapioca Land any time soon.

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