Japan’s mysterious “hazy-tasting” confectionary joins the Häagen-Dazs ice cream team.

Nine times out of ten, when you spot green ice cream in Japan, it’s green tea-flavored ice cream. And when you catch a glimpse of a package with the traditional Japanese aesthetics of Häagen-Dazs’ latest offering, you might feel even more confident in expecting a mouthful of matcha flavor in every bite.

However, peel off the lid and you’ll quickly see that’s what inside is a brighter shade of green than the deep shade indicative of green tea sweets, because this isn’t matcha ice cream, it’s zunda ice cream.

The new flavor is part of Häagen-Dazs’s Hana Mochi line, which combines the company’s signature premium ice cream with classic Japanese desserts. This time, the team-up is with zunda mochi, a soybean-based confectionary that’s the representative sweet treat of Miyagi Prefecture, located in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region.

Japanese people often describe the taste of zunda mochi as moyamoya, a word that translates roughly to “hazy” or “indistinct,” but perhaps the better way to describe it would be complex. Zunda is a mix of sweet, salty, and bitter notes which mix together for something that’s subtle and hard to pin down, with a lingering yet clean finish that leaves the palate ready for another bite.

The top layer of the zunda Häagen-Dazs is a stratum of zunda-infused sweet bean paste, and waiting underneath is a base of chamame bean and milk ice cream. Once we’d stretched a mouthful up high enough to take a bite, we found out that in addition to a complex flavor, the zunda Häagen-Dazs has a complex texture as well. There are bits of edamame beans mixed into the sweet bean paste, giving it a tough of tongue-pleasing grit, but the mochi is smooth and chewy, while the ice cream is, of course, creamy.

Add in the moyamoya flavor, and the 295-yen (US$2.80) Häagen-Dazs Zunda Mochi ice cream will give you a lot to think about as you eat it, but that’s not at all a bad thing when they’re all happy thoughts.

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