A summer festival for the mouth…but this celebration isn’t suited to all tastes.

With so many festivals cancelled due to the pandemic, the past couple of summers just haven’t been quite the same in Japan. Thankfully, though, ice cream manufacturer Imuraya has sensed our pain and they’ve come up with a way for us to enjoy the fun of a festival at home, by creating a new product called Takoyaki Ice Cream.

▼ The box replicates the front of a takoyaki stand at a festival, with summer fireworks bursting in the background.

Takoyaki are fried balls of dough containing a chunk of octopus, so as soon as we heard about the new product we didn’t know what to think of it. However, when our reporter K. Masami finally tracked them down, after stopping by several branches of Lawson, the convenience store chain exclusively selling the product, she was relieved to find these balls of ice cream didn’t actually contain octopus.

▼ The note on the box, in red with a startled octopus next to it, reads: “Doesn’t contain octopus” .

If these ice creams don’t contain octopus, then what do they contain? Masami opened the pack to find out.

Inside, she found there were six little bite-sized morsels of ice cream awaiting her, and each one was individually wrapped. Opening a couple up and placing them on a plate, Masami couldn’t help but smile with glee at their adorable takoyaki-like appearance.

From the top, they looked exactly like octopus balls, which have a distinctive dark brown takoyaki sauce and topping of pinky smoked bonito flakes and green laver.

A look at the side, however, gives the game away, as the white ice cream beneath the takoyaki-style topping is more conical in shape than a real takoyaki, which is perfectly rounded.

Still, the top visual is so good it makes you feel as if you’re about to bite into a piping hot morsel of octopus-filled dough…until you bite into it, that is, because instead of being piping hot it’s freezing cold, and instead of containing octopus it contains something that’s oddly salty.

There was a strange taste here, and it seemed to be coming from the bottom part of the ice cream. Masami racked her brain to think of what it could be, as it was a salty taste that was familiar but totally different to what she was used to.

Inspecting the pack, she found an explanation of the ingredients on the side, which listed them as: strawberry-flavoured granules, matcha-flavoured granules, chocolate ice cream and…vanilla ice cream with dashi soy sauce.

Masami’s mouth opened in shock at the surprise ingredient, but once she knew it was soy sauce dashi broth that was responsible for the salty element, she couldn’t shake the soy sauce flavour from her taste buds.

She decided to give the ice cream one last chance by trying another morsel, but in the end, she couldn’t say that the salty vanilla, sweet chocolate, and tart strawberries were a perfect combination.

It’s definitely a festival for the mouth, which’ll have you calling out “わっしょい” (“wasshoi”) like they do at festivals, but not everyone will love this salty-sweet-tart combination.

These ice creams may seem odd to some but, like a few Japanese festivals, they have a strange allure that’ll have others coming back for more time and time again. Only on the market since 24 August, the Takoyaki Ice Cream is sold exclusively at Lawson convenience stores, where it retails for 192 yen (US$1.75).

Photos © SoraNews24
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