Tokyo cafe finds a way to use natto’s sticky texture to create a dessert like Turkish ice cream.

With passion and purpose, anything can be accomplished, and that’s what “Cafe au Lait Tokyo” in Takadanobaba hopes to have done, with the creation of their new natto ice cream.

According to Dreams, who operates the cafe, there was fierce opposition to the ice cream at first, by almost everyone who tried it in its prototype stage. When discussing the prototype, their press release states:

“The palate became sticky after eating it, and the look of it didn’t match the image of the store, so unfortunately it was no good, due to unprecedented fierce opposition from almost everyone involved.”


“One year and five months after its conception, please enjoy the miracle encounter between natto and cafe au lait, which has finally been realised after overcoming the opposition of staff and people concerned.”

Thanks to the passion and perseverance of the development team, customers can now enjoy a much better version of the initial prototype, but here to judge whether it really is a “miracle encounter” is our Japanese reporter Mr Sato, who paid the cafe a visit just the other day.

▼ The new menu item is described as a “stretchy ice cream” similar to Turkish ice cream.

Natto’s slimy, thready texture does make it suitable for use in a stretchy ice cream, but Mr Sato had no idea how they would be able to pull off such a feat without packing the dish full of fermented soybeans. Once the dessert arrived, however, Mr Sato’s thoughts turned from texture to aroma, as he wondered if the sweet would have the same fermented scent as natto.

He took a whiff and was pleased to find there was no natto smell here at all! Instead, the delicious aroma of cafe au lait filled his nostrils, enticing him to dip his spoon in for a taste of the coffee and natto combination.

With actual soybeans in the dish, Mr Sato wasn’t sure what to expect from this combination, as he’d never tried natto ice cream before, let alone one that had coffee thrown into the mix.

He lifted the spoon to his mouth and allowed his taste buds to soak up all the flavours of the unusual dessert. The taste of natto was definitely there, although if a normal serving of natto was at a level ten, he’d rank this at a modest level two. He was glad for the subtle flavour of natto, which was overpowered by the coffee and ice cream, but its presence was mostly evident in the unusual texture of the dessert.

▼ Check out the stretch of this ice cream!

It really did look like Dondurma, the famous Turkish ice cream that gets its viscous texture from plant resin and ground-up tubers, although the stretch displayed by this ice cream was a lot more slack and easier to bite into.

While the ice cream had a light stickiness to it, it didn’t cling to the insides of the mouth like regular natto — instead, it helped to give the ice cream an incredibly unique, pleasant texture. It really is one of the most unusual ice creams you can try in Tokyo right now, and while Mr Sato reckons it still might be a challenging dish for those who hate for natto, he’s sure it’ll be a hit with natto lovers throughout the summer months.

If you’re outside of Japan and craving natto ice cream right now, though, you can always try making your own version at home — and it won’t take 17 months to perfect!

Cafe information
Cafe au lait Tokyo / カフェオレ東京
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Takadanobaba 4-2-28 The Factory by Dreams Inc. Building B1 – 2F
東京都新宿区高田馬場4-2-28 The Factory by Dreams Inc. Building B1 – 2F
Open 8 a.m.-8p.m.

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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