Thursday, October 26, 2017

Soft Serve at Silkream, Tokyo

My 2017 visit to Tokyo featured a lot of ice cream.  Soft serve ice cream.  One of my favorite things, something San Francisco doesn't do well, but, it turns out, Tokyo does.  In particular, Japan seems obsessed with soft serve made from Hokkaido milk.

My first night, I got a group together, and we ventured to Silkream, known for the aforementioned Hokkaido milk soft serve.  We had to figure out how to get there via bus, and kept running into friends, so took a bit longer than planned, but arrived at 7:58pm.  I gathered the group outside to tell them all about Silkream, and to make a group decision if we'd go inside to sit in the cafe (where they offer a large menu) or just get ice cream cones to-go (which is what I was originally planning).  During those 2 minutes ... Silkream closed.  The cafe and the takeout window.  8pm on the dot, even though the internet told us they were open until 9pm.  Sigh.  We wound up getting soft serve at Wendy's instead (yes, really) 

Undeterred, we ventured back the next day, after getting takoyaki at Gindaco, and this time, we were sure to arrive before 8pm.
Soft Serve Delights!
My group of 5 all ordered different items, each quite stunning looking.  All featured the same wonderful soft serve.  I will attest, this is good soft serve.

This is soft serve that they spent 10 (!) years developing, named "Cremia".  They wanted it as creamy as possible, like eating frozen whipped cream, but, without coating your mouth all gross.

The result is soft serve that is 25% cream.  Normal soft serve is 5% (up to 8%, and very, very rarely 10%).  This was 25%!!!  And, again, it was awesome.

The treats were also all presented beautifully.

Setting 

“We wish to make a café where an adult woman may be relaxed… .”
Uh, was the place just for women? Because I brought a group of all dudes.
“SILKREAM” was born from the ambition of four young women.Enjoy a pleasant and quality time for you. Drop in to DOLCI Café “SILKREAM” when you feel tired during your trip. 
We will warmly welcome and give you a comfortable time even for a short rest.The intimate space you can find nowhere else is waiting for your visit."
I guess this does rather sum up the cafe.  Very cozy, very relaxing, actually.  Soft music played in teh background while we were there, adding to that atmosphere.
Takeout Menu.
As I mentioned, one option is takeout, where you can get a cone, a vanilla cone (vanilla *isn't* the standard flavor in Tokyo, just "milk" is), or a chestnut parfait.  Chestnut was everywhere.

Prices for takeout were much cheaper than inside seating.
Prep Area.
Inside the cafe is an open prep area, where I could watch each item being assembled.

The service style was interesting, each item was made in serial order, and brought out once ready.  Since it was ice cream, and melting, waiting for the whole group to get their orders wasn't really the right thing to do, but the time between the first and last dishes hitting our table was at least 15 minutes (per the timestamps on my images).
Seating
I don't really know how to describe the decor.  Country cottage perhaps?

Wooden tables, white washed chairs, an old clock, wicker baskets ...
Cutlery.
Baskets of cutlery were provided once we ordered.  It seemed strange that napkins were individually wrapped in plastic.

Menu

Silkream offers more than just ice cream, including savory dishes like salads and noodles, a large drink selection, and crepes.  But, the dessert lineup is clearly the main attraction, all of which feature the signature soft serve.

"Creative frozen desserts of soft serve ice cream decorated with fruits and sweets."
Menu ... inspiration?
The first page tells us all about how the owners wanted to create somewhere relaxing.
Menu, Page One.
The english menu was well illustrated.  We ordered 3 of these 4 items, skipping the affogato.
Menu, Page Two.
The next page had some stunners, a parfait and molten chocolate cake.  I'm shocked no one got the cake.
Apple pie!
The apple pie got its own page of the menu, but, no one in our group ordered it.
Crepes.
The final dessert items were crepes, three varieties, all different styles.

Desserts

We ordered 5 different items, a nice sampling of the dessert menu.
Cremia with Panna Cotta. 980 yen.
I opted for the cremia with panna cotta.  I don't think of panna cotta and soft serve ice cream as items that belong together at all, but, I do like both so this seemed like a great way to hedge my bets.  Plus, I couldn't just get the ice cream!

The soft serve (left side of platter) came perched on almond biscuits, had silver balls decorating it, and waffle wafers sticking out.  I adored the biscuits on the base, crispy, buttery, great flavor, nice crunch from the almond chunks.  My favorite element, actually.

The soft serve was indeed ridiculously creamy and very rich, yet without tasting like you were eating just cream.  It was very good.  The flavor wasn't vanilla, it was a bit tart, but sweet, and I guess, "milk" flavored?

The texture of both the ice cream and the biscuits is what really stood out to me, both excellent, and complimentary.  I also liked the crunchy silver balls.  The wafters sticking out were just standard waffle cones, but they were sweet and another crunchy element.

In the glass is the panna cotta, fairly classic, thick, well set creamy panna cotta, topped with very sweet mango sauce.  Too much mango sauce.  It was ok, but, I had been having multiple pudding desserts every day in Tokyo, and perhaps I was kinda sick of it?   Or maybe it just wasn't anything special?  I found it hard to be excited for.  Plus, um, ice cream!  The ice cream *was* special.

On the right is a mound of fluffy whipped cream, with fresh strawberries, and more pearls.  This was all fine,  but again, not the most exciting thing on the platter.

Overall, this was just a bit strange.  Why ice cream, panna cotta, and whipped cream, all on one dessert?  They didn't go together.  I still loved the ice cream, and the crispy almond cookies, so I'm glad I ordered this, but still, a bit of an odd platter.
Cremia with Langue de Chat cone. 820 yen.
One person went quite simple, just a parfait glass of the ice cream, with a cone on the side.  A special cone, that just like the soft serve itself, they also spent years formulating.  They wanted something actually tasty, but that would hold up.  This is basically a thin rolled buttery sugar cookie.  It was very good.

Note that it wasn't served in the cone, as that wasn't allowed since we were dining inside, because that is messy.  Had we been outside, it would be served in a cone (and cost less!).

The cone was actually better than regular cones, a crispy wafer, sweet, buttery.  But so strange to have on the side.

This diner probably liked his the least, but, he really picked the most boring offering.
Mont Blanc Parfait. 1,110 yen.
Mont Blanc, and chestnuts in general, are a rage in Tokyo.  I don't know if this is seasonal, or what, but, they were everywhere (I had an amazing mont blanc ice cream myself a few days later).

This dinner clearly "won" the best looking, more elaborate one, with the chestnut cream spaghetti-like wrapping, chestnut on top, crispy wafers sticking out, and layers of interesting things amongst his soft serve.

More expensive than the other items, which seemed warranted given how much more involved the prep was.
Strawberry Crepe. 980 yen.
"Made from whole wheat to keep its nutritional value and natural flavor."

One diner opted for a crepe, the strawberry ones.

This one was quite the surprise, as it was stuffed with ... cake?  He didn't seem thrilled with this fact.

Other crepe options were "tiramisu style" and banana & chocolate.
Cremia Japaese Taste. 920 yen.
The Japanese style had green tea mochi, sweet red bean, matcha powder, and strawberries, along with crispy wafers.  It was actually quite small in comparison to the other offerings.

If it wasn't evening, I likely would have opted for this, but, I didn't want green tea at night. 
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