Highlighting the simplicity of Japanese sweets in ice cream form. 

Häagen-Dazs has repeatedly proven that they’re in the ring for the best packaged ice cream in Japan, since, in addition to their usual roster of delicious flavors, they’re also frequently coming out with out-of-this world seasonal flavors, like Kanjuku Beniharuka Sweet Potato and Caramelized Sweet Potato Tart.

But one of our favorite varieties of limited-edition Häagen-Dazs flavors is their Hana Mochi line, which combines chewy mochi rice cakes with ice cream inspired by Japanese flavors and topped with Japanese ingredients. They haven’t released any flavors in the line for two whole years, which is why we were super excited to find out they just came out with two earlier this week, Ginse Kinako Kuromitsu and Matcha Azuki.

The Ginse Kinako Kuromitsu is a repeat flavor with kinako (roasted soybean powder) and kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup), but it’s so good, it sells well every time it’s released. Its packaging is eye catching, with a bright vermillion base, and though it’s got a slightly new look, it’s still familiar for the fans.

This time around the cup comes with a 30-percent increase in kinako, which was exciting news to us!

The increase was evident, with the mochi inside the cup liberally dusted with the aromatic powder. And when we dared to scoop our spoon inside, we rediscovered the kinako-flavored ice cream underneath the mochi. That combined with the chewy mochi rice cake and the bountiful kinako flour just about brought us to heaven!

When we dug a little further, we soon discovered the gradual permeation of kuromitsu, which added an even richer sweetness to the dish as a whole.

What we liked most about this ice cream was that the kinako, which normally plays a supporting role in desserts, was the main flavor. You really get to appreciate its simple sweetness and aroma to the fullest extent. The only concern we have is that you might get so lost in the bliss of eating it that you won’t notice if you spill kinako flour all over your clothes.

Of course, the Matcha Azuki flavor isn’t to be ignored either. Made using first-grade tea leaves, this ice cream comes in a distinctive green cup.

The ice cream inside is just as green, and topped with a mochi cake and coarse red bean paste. The glossy beans really made our mouths water!

The rich flavor of the matcha, coupled with the refined sweetness of the red bean paste and the silky smooth texture of the mochi…There really just isn’t a better sweets combination in our opinion.

You can really taste the high quality of the ingredients. There’s no unnecessary bitterness or cloying sweetness, so when you finish this cup of ice cream, you feel both immensely satisfied and warmly comforted.

All in all, the return of Häagen-Dazs Hana Mochi series has reminded us how the line has dedicated itself to quality–and has us stoked for future flavors. If you love delicious Japanese flavors done simply but well, definitely pick some up before they’re gone. They both retail for 351 yen (US$2.38) wherever ice cream is sold.

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