Over a millennium ago, famous author Sei Shonagon wrote about kakigori (かき氷) in the Pillow Book, a poetic journal and now a classic of Japanese literature. She placed kakigori in a list of “Elegant things: shaved ice mixed with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl.” At the time, it was called kezurihi (削り氷), and it was made in the heat of summer by servants who travelled to the deepest mountain caves to cut pieces off giant sheets of ice. The ice was brought back and shaved by steel into slivers thin as snowflakes, flavoured with a syrup derived from the sap of local vines, and presented at court as a sweet, warm-weather indulgence.
Kakigori, or “shaved ice,” was originally a high-class dessert that only the most wealthy could afford. Luckily, times have changed, and we can now enjoy the modern version of this cool dessert both in Japan and right here at home. But it was a long time coming. After Shonagon’s time, eight centuries passed before everyday people were finally able to enjoy kakigori for themselves. Shaved ice first became popular in the 1860s when a businessman with an entrepreneurial spirit decided to import ice from Hokkaido, but it was still painstakingly shaved by hand on a plane worked with a hand crank. Soon afterward, a merchant named Hanzaburo Murakami invented the mechanized ice-shaving machine, which was equipped with a mechanical blade that transformed the Japanese world of summer sweets.
Kakigori is just one delicious, icy treat you can enjoy in these sweltering months. Other mouth-watering desserts include bite-sized mochi sherbet, gorgeous green tea parfaits, refreshing slushies, floats topped with a generous swirl of soft serve and cold drinks garnished with fresh fruit. Hit the streets and hunt down one of these desserts at a Japanese shop near you.
Celebrate summer with these delicious, ice-cold Japanese treats
This parfait takes matcha love to a new level! Creamy matcha pudding is layered with crunchy corn flakes, whipped cream, sweet red bean paste and two pieces of pillowy-soft matcha cheesecake—topped with matcha ice cream and house-made matcha sauce.
Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Angel Café
Toronto’s first and only Japanese maid-style café. Angel Café offers up premium Japanese desserts, from Uncle Tetsu’s famous cheesecake to delicious ice-cold treats.
191 Dundas St. W., Toronto | 647-351-2666
OPEN HOURS: Sun–Thurs 11 am–10:30 pm • Fri–Sat 11 am–11 pm
Green Tea Parfait
Millie’s signature Green Tea Matcha Parfait is made with a delightful combination of premium matcha gelato, whipped cream, azuki (red bean) paste, fresh strawberries and corn flakes. The azuki paste and gelato are crafted in-house with ingredients from Japan!
Proudly serving Toronto’s first Japanese crêpes and parfaits, with a focus on making everything in-house. Millie Creperie also offers a fine selection of cakes.
161 Baldwin St., Toronto | 416-977-1922
OPEN HOURS: Mon–Thurs 11:30 am–8:30 pm • Fri–Sat 11:30 am–11 pm Sun 11:30 am–9 pm
Tsujiri’s version of the classic snow cone comes in two flavours: matcha and yuzu citron. Each cup is deliciously decorated with a scoop of red bean paste and chewy shiratama rice balls, with a bonus sweet-chestnut ball on the matcha version.
Pick your favourite from five different flavours, including red bean and chocolate ice. Our recommendation? Tsujiri’s original matcha flavour and honey-sweetened yuzu citron flavour. For a little extra, you can ask them to add milk, which gives it a smoother texture.
Are you obsessed with matcha, but you still want to try out some of Tsujiri’s other flavours? Then the float is your answer. Put matcha, vanilla or matcha-vanilla-swirl soft serve on your Ice Blended cup. These two cold treats are a match made in heaven.
Tsujiri is a Japanese tea brand that was founded in Kyoto in 1860. Tsujiri Toronto is the brand’s first North American location, specializing in matcha drinks and sweets.
147 Dundas St. W., Toronto | 647-351-7899
OPEN HOURS: Daily 11:30 am–10:30 pm
The Umeboshi Sencha is a refreshing upgrade to traditional green tea, with a pleasantly sweet aftertaste. And for those who worry about lemonade being too sweet or too sour, the Yuzu Lemonade strikes a citrusy balance that’s just right.
This cosy tea room is a serene space that serves Japanese drinks made with all-natural ingredients. The result is a selection of delicious refreshments that are also good for you.
467 Queen St. W., Toronto | 416-603-2366
OPEN HOURS: Sun–Thurs 12 pm–9 pm • Fri–Sat 12 pm–10 pm
Take these treats home!
Mochi Sherbet – sweet & chewy bites
Add a twist to the same old sundae with Mochi Sherbet! Refreshing scoops of sherbet are enveloped in a layer of mochi, or sticky rice cake. You can try this unique delicacy in green tea, red bean, black sesame, vanilla, strawberry or mango flavour.
This delectable Japanese gelato is artisan-made in small batches. It’s also a great choice for those with dietary restrictions, as it’s dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly. Flavours include matcha green tea, mango and roasted white sesame.
Fumi Ice can be found in supermarkets.
More info: JC Creative Foods | www.jccreativefoods.com