Meet the Japanese shaved ice dessert that has all the foodies talking

It is as beautiful as it is delicious. Kakigori, a dessert favoured by Japanese nobles during the 11thcentury, is making waves across the foodie scene in London, New York and Sydney.

"It is smooth and fluffy, just like freshly fallen snow," is the rather poetic description of Kakigori by Okamura, a pastry chef at the Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo. He has featured Kakigori on his menu for the past few months and is bowled over by the demand.

And there is something quite ethereal about this year's sweetest hit. These towering frozen sensation can be found served with extraordinary colour-combinations and unique flavour mixes. Its popularity has seen Kakigori snowballing across the menus of some of the world’s best restaurants.

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It is a relatively low-calorie street snack which was originally served with toppings such as mochi balls and azuki beans. In New York, it’s become popular to see it stained a rainbow of hues with exotic flavours like melon and coconut-lime crunch.

So what’s the difference between Kakigori and, say, another shaved-ice deserts or sorbets?

Apparently, it should be made from pure ice rather than flavoured ice. A block of frozen mineral water that is shaved down and then sweetened with fruits and tea syrups. The New York Times even did a feature on how to make the best Kakigori.


Image via Rong Xu



"All kakigori starts with a block of plain ice. A machine locks the ice in place and spins it against a blade, shaving off soft, sheer flakes. As the ice piles up, kakigori makers add syrups, purées and other sweet toppings. The dessert is endlessly adaptable, which is one reason so many pastry chefs in the United States are not only adding kakigori to their menus but also extending its season".

The fanciest spin that we've heard of is perhaps from the Japanese-French chef Sota Atsumi who created foie-gras Kakigori for his first solo restaurant Maison in Paris. But Irish chefs are equally as taken with this cold dessert with Dylan's Bonsai Bar featuring it on the menu at his restaurant in Dublin.

Image via Instagram BonsaiBar


Whatever way you want to experience kakigori,  he joy in eating the sweet versions are in the texture – crunchy, fluffy, gooey, slimy, icy all at once.



Image via Tokyo Restaurant Association

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