Monday, December 04, 2017

Soft Serve from Ministop, Tokyo

Tokyo is a land of many wonders.

One of which is incredible soft serve ice cream.  Seriously, Japan is obsessed with "Soft Cream", crazy high quality, and I'm not complaining.  I had some truly fantastic soft cream during my visit, like the Cremia, made with 25% whipped cream (!) at Silkream, the creative Mont Blanc parfait (with jellies and cocoa crispies in it!) at Mother Farm Milk Bar, and a very creamy version coated in praline from Zaku Zaku.

Another of which is convenience stores.  These are nothing like convenience stores in the United States.  The food quality is high.  There is often seating.  There is serious competition in this space.  People actually seek them out as a place to eat lunch or pick up dinner.  Which of course, I did.  I visited 7-Eleven for tasty salads and onigiri, Lawson for the famed egg salad sandwich and fried chicken, and Family Mart for great pudding.

But on my last evening, I discovered a wondrous place that combined soft cream and convenience stores: Ministop.  A smaller chain of convenience stores, with a huge soft serve sign out front.  The sign drew me in.  Ministop can be found in Japan, but also in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Phillippines, and South Korea.

After a few quick moments of internet research, I found out that Ministop is known for the soft serve.  How was this never on my radar before??!
"Soft-serve ice cream is one of MINISTOP's flagship products. 
We use raw milk produced in Hokkaido for the ingredients, and are confident in their high quality. 
Vanilla is the classic flavor, but you can also enjoy limited-time flavors or soft-serve mixed with vanilla."
What's a girl to do, when walking back to her hotel at night, feeling like she needs "just one more treat"?  Yup, I had no choice.  I had to get soft serve.  From Ministop.

I found out later that Ministop uses 20% fat in their soft serve, not as high as the Cremia at 25%, but, much higher than the 3-6% found in most US based soft serve (sometimes it goes up to 10%, but I've never seen higher).  Vanilla is Ministop's signature offering, but they always have a seasonal flavor as well.  When I was there ... yup, like everywhere else, it was chestnut.  Well, not just chestnut, Mont Blanc.

Unfortunately, I didn't like my pick, but, if I were in Tokyo longer, I'd actually try again, as I think I just poorly ordered.
Ministop Cafe Menu.
The picture menu made it fairly easy to see the offerings.  Vanilla soft cream in a cake style cone.  What looked like a mont blanc creation in a huge chocolate (?) waffle cone.  A mix of the two.  There were also assorted fruit parfaits with soft serve layered with dragonfruit, mango, and more, shakes, floats, potatoes in every form (that really did look good), corn dogs (!), and more.

The hot items were all displayed near the register, and really looked better than the ones from the competition.  Again, why hadn't I found Ministop before?

But I was a bit stumped by the soft serve.  Did they really have a soft serve machine?  Some of the other convenience stores also sorta had soft serve ... it was packaged ice cream in the freezer that somehow was quasi soft.
Soft Serve Machine!
I almost walked out, but there was so much signage about the soft serve, I just couldn't give up.

And then I spotted it!  In the back corner, behind the register.  There *was* a soft serve machine!
Packaged up To Go.
When I ordered, I was asked a question I didn't quite understand.  And then my cashier disappeared for a long time to make my soft serve.

From the picture, I knew it wasn't going to just be soft serve in a cone, but I didn't quite expect it to take quite so long to prepare.  Then again, the last time I ordered a Mont Blanc soft serve (at Mother Farm Milk Bar), it ended up being a many layered creation with jelly and rice crispies in the bottom, so, I really had no idea what I was getting.

The answer in this case?  I think I said I wanted it packaged to go, rather than to eat there.  And, um, wow.  They package soft serve to go!!!!  In seriously elaborate packaging.

My cone was placed into a cardboard holder, which did indeed hold it upright.  It had a protective dome over the top.  And then it was carefully set into a bag.

I've never seen something like this before.  Which, I guess, is true for many things in Japan, but wow, they've innovated on soft serve packaging too.
Premium Wakuri Mont Blanc Soft Cream: Top View.
So, under that dome, what did I have?

Chestnut flavored soft serve, with some kind of chestnut gel layered around it sorta like a Mont Blanc.  The obsession with chestnut, and the Mont Blanc form, just doesn't cease to amaze me.

The dome lid ruined the presentation slightly, but it wasn't a big deal, I was still quite impressed with the whole thing.

That said, I didn't actually like it.

In particular, I hated the chestnut gel stuff.  It had a bad flavor, and a worse consistency.  I tried to scrape this off, but then I just wound up with tons of it on my spoon.

The soft serve itself was quite creamy, a great texture, light brown color.  But ... I didn't like the chestnut flavor.

My companion said, "you don't like chestnut, why do you keep ordering chestnut?", but I reminded him that I do like chestnut.  I really liked the one at Milk Bar, and I had been eating the candied chestnuts off danishes at breakfast every morning.  (Side note: The next day, I'd also make a chestnut based impulse order, and it too would go similarly poorly).
Premium Wakuri Mont Blanc Soft Cream: Side View. ¥330.
The cone was a waffle cone, a dark color.  I thought at first it might be chocolate, but I think it too was chestnut?  A different cone than the one they use for the other ice cream, this one specially branded for the Mont Blanc soft cream.  (Side note: There regular cones actually say "Ministop" in the cone itself ... no standard Joy cups here!).

It was crispy, not stale, and decent enough I guess.

Also, this was a massive creation, served with a spoon like other soft serve sundaes in cones we saw on the trip.

Overall, I didn't like this.  But, I could tell the soft serve quality was high, I was amazed by the packaging, and I'm thrilled to see offerings like this in the first place.  We need more soft serve, and more soft serve sundaes-in-cones!
Related Posts with Thumbnails