We all scream for ice cream
Japanese Ice Ouca ought to come out near the top of any ice cream list for the fact that nearly everything it turns its icy hands to tends to work. The flavours on offer are housemade and seasonal, where you can look forward to multiple strawberry varieties in spring and chestnut and pumpkin come autumn. There are evergreen options too, most notably matcha, hojicha and karinto cookie.
Want more than just ice cream? Don't miss the adorable bear-shaped kakigori during summer, and yaki-dango rice cakes covered in gelato over the cooler months. As a nice finishing touch, you're given a pinch of salted kombu with your ice cream order – it's the perfect palate cleanser in between flavours.
NYC streetwear guru, designer and Kith owner Ronnie Fieg is also a passionate cereal fan. He opened his very own cereal bar in the Big Apple after 20 years of pondering, and has now brought that same operation to Tokyo. The backstory is that young Ronnie's parents forbid him from eating cereal as a child, so he'd secretly get his own by exchanging it with the packed lunch he brought from home. Here at Kith Treats, breakfast meets dessert with the delicious cereal-infused ice cream and milkshakes, served alongside a few of Kith's coveted tees and hoodies.
Located just a short walk from Gakugei-daigaku Station, this established cake shop has been turning out all sorts of sweets since 1952. Here you'll find everything from classic strawberry shortcakes and mont blanc cream cakes to pudding and tarts. The attached tea room, on the other hand, is worth a visit for its parfaits and ice cream, with one of their most popular items being the mocha soft serve. It comes in a sundae glass, on a bed of coffee jelly and with an ice cream cone attached to the side. Not a fan of coffee? You can't go wrong with one of their fruity sherbets or the classic chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
Guilt-free dessert? Sign us up, because healthy AND delicious ice cream really does exist. The scoops at Kippy’s are made from raw organic coconut cream and natural sweeteners like dates and honey. Plus, they are also dairy and gluten-free, perfect for those suffering from food allergies.
Choose from popular flavours such as the double dark chocolate sweetened with raw honey and the coffee, which uses dates for a sweet finish. A healthy-ish selection of toppings can be added for an extra ¥100, where you can sprinkle on everything from bee pollen and goji berries to spiced pecans and honey salted caramel.
Shizuoka-based matcha sweets purveyor Nanaya teamed up with venerable Asakusa tea shop Suzukien to bring you the richest green tea gelato in Tokyo. Go for the Premium No. 7 gelato, which apparently is certified as the ice cream with the world's highest matcha content – and this shop is the only one stocking it outside of Shizuoka prefecture. While the matcha gelato also comes in six other levels of intensity, most customers only come here for the 7.
Occupying a beautifully renovated 60-year-old wooden house, Mighty Steps Coffee Stop has been serving coffee and ice cream in Nihonbashi since 2014. Providing speciality blends under the concept of 'anytime coffee', owner Yasuo Ishii also offers accompanying treats which you can enjoy any time of the day. We say, go straight for his super rich ice cream creations that come in tempting flavours such as pistachio, strawberry, mascarpone or salted caramel.
This hip and popular roastery-café on Harajuku's Cat Street is one of the city's flashiest specialist coffee haunts. Every day, you'll get to choose from two kinds of single-origin beans for your espresso-based drinks, but its soft serve is especially noteworthy. If you can't decide between the espresso or milk flavours, just go for a mix of both, which, come to think of it, is essentially a frozen latte.
A revered Kyoto tea shop famed for its use of Uji matcha, Tsujiri now graces Tokyo with a shop in Ginza Six's depachika. Besides their green staples, they sell Ginza Six exclusives such as the Tsujiri double rich matcha soft ice cream and the Tsujiri rich matcha terrine. The soft serve comes in both a regular and 'rich matcha' version – order both and see if they can taste the difference. Note that everything is for takeout only, although there are some benches close by for you to sit and savour your tea-flavoured treats.
This Harajuku ice cream stand is disguised as a pink ice cream vending machine, but you actually order from the staff hiding inside. You can choose your preferred ice cream animal – the elephants, koalas, panda bears are all good, but we say go the whole hog with the triple decker piggie option in three different flavours (the exact flavours are chosen by the staff). Just be sure to snap a photo before it melts.
Relish in a smooth scoop of sesame ice cream at this specialist shop in Omotesando which uses ingredients from long-standing sesame house Kiku Sangyo in Mie prefecture. Besides crowd favourites kuro (black) and shiro (white) sesame ice cream, it also offers original flavours such as goma-shio (sesame salt) and tsubutsubu zakkoku (chunky mixed sesame). To really get into the tasty depths of sesame, try both the kuro and shiro side by side and you'll be a sesame ice cream expert by the time you finish.
Daily Chiko is no regular ice cream stand. If you're around Nakano Broadway, you definitely won't want to miss their eight-layered 20cm tall soft serve. The flavours change once in a while depending on how the manager feels, but vanilla, chocolate, matcha and ramune soda seem to be staples. Though this monstrous dessert looks intimidating, the ice cream itself is surprisingly light and only packs a third of the calories in a typical soft serve. A mere ¥480 lets you take up the challenge. Daily Chiko also operates an udon shop next door, so you can fill up on noodles before moving on to the main dish.
As the name implies, the gelato at this Asagaya shop is simple, honest and delicious. Made with fresh, seasonal fruit, the selection varies throughout the year but you can expect the same high quality throughout. You'll find this shop close to the Matsuyama-dori shopping arcade north of Asagaya Station.
Considering the recent boom in all things natural, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that Californian-born organic ice cream shop Three Twins has decided to open an outlet in Tokyo. Unlike some ice cream manufacturers, artificial colourings, seasonings and preservatives aren't used here. On the menu, you'll find 11 different flavours, including the standard Madagascar Vanilla, the sweet-and-sour blend of orange and chocolate named Chocolate Orange Confetti, and the San Francisco fave, Sea Salt Caramel.
Using sesame ice cream from specialist purveyor Gomaya Kuki, Coisof offer soft serves in three different flavours – white sesame, black sesame and a mix of both. Interestingly enough, the shop's name refers to the Japanese words for ‘love’ and ‘richness’ (both pronounced 'koi'). This also explains why its crowdpleaser is the ‘love soft cream’ that's decorated with colourful toppings, a Kagawa prefecture speciality said to invite love into one's life. So if you're looking to entice some steamy summer romance, best make straight for this Takeshita-dori shop.