When I told my Japanese friends that my summer would be spent in Tokyo, most looked at me in horror. How would I survive the soaring temperatures and humidity which define the city during the summer months? Well, siestas, air-conditioning and plenty of water come as part of the survival kit, as does kakigori, a classic Japanese dessert of shaved ice and flavoured syrup.
Adding a sophisticated and adult touch to kakigori, The Strings hotel in Shinagawa – one of Tokyo’s business districts – combines the dessert with a touch of champagne. Offering five different flavours: matcha, green apple and herb, tropical curry, cassis and peach, there’s something for everyone. Most unusual was the tropical curry: you have the aroma of curry, a touch of curry oil, the sweetness of tropical fruit and a savoury biscuit. Then with the addition of the champagne… It makes for a very unique experience. A must.
Naturally, in the 30+°C heat, anything with fresh fruit is bound to be refreshing. Japan is crazy about using seasonal produce and peaches are no exception. They’re everywhere! Combining peach, cardamon (my favourite spice) and earl grey flavour, this one worked particularly well with the champagne, as did the cassis. Choosing a favourite is no mean feat. With the champagne, the green apple kakigori tops the list. With grapes, clementine and tarragon – the first time I tried this herb in sweet dish – all complimenting each other in terms of taste and texture, I could have eaten another one. My favourite though was the creamy, full bodied matcha kakigori served with sugared beans and meringue. For my first introduction to kakigori, I think I did pretty well. The Strings champagne kakigori is miles away from the Slush Puppies I used to eat in the 80s in London but it leaves me equally fond memories.
Do you eat anything similar to kakigori where you live?
The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo
26-32/F Shinagawa East One Tower
Tokyo, 108 8282