Even for Mr. Sato, there are some mountains you just can’t climb.

Though the steamy summer heat has transitioned into the cool, sometimes chilly breezes of autumn, there will always be those who want to eat shaved ice, or “kakigori” as it’s known here, no matter the season, simply because they love it. Our own Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato, who has one massive sweet tooth, is one of those people. He’ll even go to eat kakigori in the dead of winter!

That’s why Mr. Sato was ecstatic to hear that a Tokyo kakigori cafe was offering a 60-minute all-you-can-eat shaved ice for three days only. The restaurant’s called Hyoren, and it’s a five-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Kanamecho Station, which is near the shopping hub of Ikebukuro. You won’t be able to miss it; there’s a huge navy blue sign board outside that makes it easy to spot.

Mr. Sato went inside and told the clerk he wanted to try his hand at all-you-can-eat, and then paid the 3,500 yen (US$23.79) fee. Everything on the menu except the mini sizes was included in the all-you-can-eat plan, and every item was priced between 1,400 and 1,800 yen, so Mr. Sato calculated that if he ate two of the 1,800 yen shaved ices, he’d make up the price of the all-you-can-eat.

▼ Flavors include “Blueberry Cheese Pie”, “Kiwi! Kiwi! Kiwi!” and “Mitarashi Kinako” (made with soy-sauced glazed dumplings and roasted soybean powder flavors)

Conveniently, the plan also included all-you-can-eat consomme soup to cleanse the palate, so Mr. Sato thought he was going to have this in the bag.

The time limit was 60 minutes, which started from the arrival of the first dish. Large amounts of leftovers at the end of the 60 minutes would incur a fee, so Mr. Sato resolved not to let that happen. He started with the “Plentiful Pistachio”, which was one of the 1,800 yen kaki-goori. It was thoroughly doused with a rich pistachio sauce.

The top was also covered with plenty of pistachios. For Mr. Sato, who doesn’t tolerate pistachio flavors unless they go all in, this was very exciting.

However, the size of the dish was pretty daunting. The shaved ice was piled on like a mountain! And this was just the regular size. Mr. Sato had to admit you were getting plenty of bang for your buck.

But this was what he had to try to eat two off? Well, it was a lot, but Mr. Sato was a pro; he could do it just fine. Besides, apparently that same day, someone else had come to challenge the all-you-can-eat plan and managed to eat six. “Six?!” Mr. Sato exclaimed. “Of these?!”

Mr. Sato felt comfortable with his two-bowl goal. There was no need to go crazy.

In any case, his 60-minute countdown had begun, so he had to tuck in!

The first few bites were more like eating spoonfuls of nuts than kaki-goori, but that was great for Mr. Sato. He felt like this dish let him eat pistachios to his heart’s content.

Once he had dug his way into the center, he was elated to find even more pistachios! Seriously, eating this thing was like digging for treasure. It was actually kind of exciting.

At the very bottom was a layer of whipped cream and cookie crumbles. This kakigori was full of texture right to the very end, so you’d never get tired of it. It was enough to satisfy any pistachio lover, that’s for sure.

At this point, Mr. Sato had 46 minutes left. He’d already ordered his second shaved ice, so he was working at a good pace. With no intention to stuff himself to the brim, he decided he would take his time with the second one. What he didn’t realize is that he would be taking too much time.

His second shaved ice was the “Ripe Apple Brulée” (1,800 yen).

This baby was topped with flambéed custard and apple pieces sauteed in butter sugar. It looked really delicious.

Despite it being kakigori, it really tasted like creme brulée. Mr. Sato reveled in the luxury of it. “Back in my day we didn’t have fancy kakigori like this,” he told the young staff who gave him an indulgent smile. “We thought the blue hawaii flavor was as cool as it got.”

But somewhere in the middle of the kakigori mountain, his spoon suddenly stopped moving.

“I can’t…I can’t eat anymore,” he realized. “It’s like I have no desire to eat even one more bite. What’s wrong with me?!”

He had ceased to function. Without realizing it, his stomach had become so full he no longer had any strength to eat at all. Mr. Sato, known for eating literal piles of food with no problem, couldn’t finish two kakigori. Someone ate six just that morning, and he couldn’t even eat a third of that number?

Unable to motivate himself to eat even one bite, Mr. Sato could only let the time pass by as he sat glaring at the dish that taunted him. He had to at least eat enough so that the shaved ice wouldn’t be spilling out of the bowl, otherwise he’d have to pay a fee. But he was barely even able to lift another spoonful to his mouth.

Meanwhile, the ice was melting and dripping syrup over the edge of the bowl and all over the tray. Mr. Sato could only watch it happen in despair. He was soon to be 49 years old…was he now approaching the age where he couldn’t even eat two kakigori? Why, just nine years ago he ate a parfait tower with 65 strawberries on it…

He could only stare at his wilting bowl with tears crowding his eyes.

“I’ve failed…”

To the staff, he said, “I’m so sorry. I can’t eat anymore. I’ve got all these leftovers,” but they brushed away his profuse apologies. “The most important thing is that you enjoyed eating them,” they said. “Please come again.”

With 5 minutes and 38 seconds remaining, Mr. Sato, unable to even make the full 60 minutes, threw in the towel.

Perhaps Mr. Sato just wasn’t at the top of his game. He has been working really hard on his pole dancing lately, so maybe it’s simply that his body won’t let him overindulge in sweets anymore. In any case, this likely isn’t the last we’ll see of Mr. Sato and his big appetite. Just the other day he ate a salmon salad mountain, after all.

Hyoren’s all-you-can-eat special is over, but they might offer it again in the future, so be sure to keep an eye on their social media accounts for the latest information. They’ll also be offering a Halloween special between October 29 and 31. Those who come to the cafe in costume will get any kakigori 1,500 yen or over for half off (excluding the limited-time-only menu). Definitely check it out if you want to try some of their delicious concoctions for a cheap price!

Restaurant information
Kyoren / 氷連
Tokyo-to Toshima-ku Nishi-Ikebukuro 5-28-3 Noa Building 1F
東京都豊島区西池袋5-28-3 ノアビル1F
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (last order 7 p.m.)
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