It's been quite cold for May over this past week, and it was this one week that Japan's Haagen-Dazs did a one-week only event called Haagen-Dazs Premier Lounge in Tokyo, in which they opened a small cafe and served special ice-cream platters exclusive to this event. My friend Namiko and I went and checked it out on one cold day.
It was a weekday afternoon but the place was full. We didn't have to wait too long though and got seated in a matter of ten minutes or so. They've got a menu featuring ice-cream sets inspired by several different countries' cuisines such as Italy, France, Argentine, etc. I had already known what I was going to have and I followed it through.
This was the set called Wa la carte - in Japanese wa often refers to Japan or something Japanese. As its name suggests - and as you can guess from the picture - it was a Japan-themed set. Here it went:
First plate: thin-wafer sandwiches filled with matcha (green tea) and adzuki (red bean) ice-cream, or monaka. Monaka is a very traditional Japanese sweet which is most often filled with sweet bean curd, but ice-cream monaka has been pretty common for the last couple of decades at least.
Second plate: vanilla ice-cream sushi roll "wrapped" with black sesame seeds and "filled" with frozen strawberry, served with "gari ginger" made of raspberry jelly; and yatsuhashi filled with matcha and adzuki ice-cream. Yatsuhashi is cinnamon-flavored thin mochi sheets filled with, again, sweet bean curd (oh it's everywhere in Japanese sweets, give me a break!), and is a very popular Kyoto sweet.
Third plate: sweet beans with small mochi balls and sweetened chestnut; and green tea cake filled with whipped cream, along with a long pretzel. This plate doesn't involve ice-cream, but just a little of nice Japanese-y sweets.
And a cup of real matcha green tea. You may notice a difference from thinner ryoku-cha green tea that I wrote about a while ago. This is a traditional way to serve matcha tea, in which a small amount of strong (unsweetened) ultra-thick tea is served in a large bowl. It was a small but nice cup of sips that helped me take a break from intensive waves of sweet and cold treats.
All in all, there was nothing really new about this limited-edition cafe, in terms of the flavors ice-cream they served there; there was no limited-version flavor exclusive to this event, but it was more a matter of how they present it, whether it be by serving it in a Japanese-style set of dishes or in cream puffs (like the one my friend had, which you can see in the first picture). It was nice though, I wish they do this more often and for a longer period of times - and hopefully in the warmer weather (sneeze, sneeze).