These days, half the fun in finding a cool dessert is the fact that it’ll make the perfect fodder for your social media feeds. Of course, it should taste amazing, too. Tokyo has got a serious sweet tooth and the options are endless, especially over the hot months of summer when you'll find creative desserts like uniquely flavoured ice cream (black sesame or pumpkin, anyone?) and kakigori shaved ice that are made to help you cool down. We know the camera usually eats first, but don’t let these sit around for too long or you’ll be drinking puddles instead.
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If you're craving cake and ice cream at the same time, this picture-perfect ice cake is your answer. At the base is a layer of sponge cake soaked in berry sauce and filled with vanilla ice cream and chocolate bits. This is then topped with more ice cream: there's a vanilla and strawberry marble ice cream, which is completely covered over by perfectly round scoops of colourful fruit sorbet. Don't be greedy and hog this summer cake all to yourself: 'Ballon de Fruits' is big enough to share. ¥4,000
Edible clouds anyone? This quirky new creation by pastry chef Stéphane Tranchet is called 'Kumo' (cloud) and looks just like a floating cloud in the sky. Coated in crisp white chocolate, the cake is filled with plenty of cream and mousse, whose flavour changes based on the season.
To get your hands on this filigree dessert, you have to be fast and lucky, since only a few Kumo go on sale from 10.30am every day. ¥1,200
Nestled in the backstreets of Harajuku, the centre of Tokyo’s kawaii culture, Eddy’s Ice Cream offers Instragrammable soft-serve ice cream. The menu offers eight options, including Ms Ribbon (¥1,000), which is topped with edible ribbons and chocolate shaped like sunglasses, and the crowd-favourite ‘Unicorn’ (¥1,200), complete with unicorn- and heart-shaped chocolate plus cotton candy. And if that's not OTT enough, you can upgrade all of them with extra toppings, each priced between ¥50 to ¥400.
Of course, a simple soft serve (¥500) is also available: choose vanilla, strawberry or vanilla strawberry flavour and add as many toppings as you like. Keep an eye out for the seasonal specials, including Christmas or Halloween decorations for your bespoke ice cream.
The Japanese likes to make everything small, including cute tiny pancakes. All the pieces at this Shinjuku cart is made with organic flour and cooked in-store. Try the super-colourful unicorn bear (¥680), the chocolate mint (¥650), or simply create your very own mini-pancake with the sauce, toppings and ice cream of your choosing. From ¥380
Once a classic summer dessert, kakigori (shaved ice) has become a year-round Instagram-friendly treat – and this small café’s version is almost too pretty to eat. Each bowl’s quirky name like ‘Paper Moon’ or ‘Mother Goose’ gives no hint to what’s inside the dessert, but expect shaved ice creations doused in earl grey and lychee syrups, topped with sakura, strawberry, white chocolate and more. What sets this spot apart is its colourful and dramatic presentation, and the seasonal menu offers some of the wackiest flavour combos in town. From ¥800
This dessert sure looks magical in photos, and is a lot of fun to eat as well. Rightfully named 'dragon meringue ice', these small fruit-flavoured meringues are frozen using liquid nitrogen – so that when you bite into them, you'll be breathing smoke just like a dragon. ¥540
Jiyugaoka is popular for its fancy cafés and restaurants, and it's not surprising that Korea’s popular dessert shop chose this area to open its first Japan location. Koreans love their bingsu, which is like the Korean version of kakigori, or shaved ice topped with condensed milk, fruit and other condiments. Expect Japanese-inspired flavours such as ‘Matcha Anko’ and ‘Sakura Anko’, and fruity versions like ‘Strawberry Yogurt’ and ‘Mango Matcha Milk Tea’. From ¥900
Not your typical scoop of ice cream; this one’s rolled into small cylinders and finished off with a variety of delicious toppings. Hailing from New York, the shop offers ice cream in four basic flavours and over 20 mix-in ingredients as well as 40 toppings to customise your very own rolled ice cream creation. Be sure to watch the rolling in action – it’s mesmerising. ¥780
More ways to cool down this summer
You can’t visit Japan without trying some dainty sweets. These tiny, intricately-decorated desserts, called wagashi, are actually traditional delicacies with a long history. Learn how to make these artistic treats in a two-and-a-half hour class where you’ll learn how to make nerikiri wagashi, daifuku mochi and dango mochi from making the dough to cutting out tiny flowers and arranging the mochi.