Metro Recommends: Houjicha soft-serve ice cream from Tsujiri
Metro Recommends is a regular recommendation of food we love, whether it’s an unsung hero we want to share with the world, or a crowd favourite we can’t help but sing the praises of.
It’s 11.40 on a very chilly weekday morning, and I’m walking 10 minutes to get soft-serve ice cream. I can feel the icy wind biting at my face. My life choices at this point are questionable.
But doubt dissolves the second I walk into my beloved Tsujiri, the glow of fluorescent light flooding the space. Matcha cheesecakes line up in the cabinet; neatly, orderly. It is calming, pure, and suddenly I am very glad I made it here.
Tsujiri opened late last year, a dessert chain from Japan. Matcha is hardly ever done well in New Zealand: too sweet and with not enough matcha powder. The flavour is dumbed down because of its inherent bitterness, an attribute I adore. But the matcha here, in its various soft-serve and drink and crepe cake forms is dreamy, unapologetically bitter and tastes as it should: like matcha.
On this morning, though, I’m not here for the matcha. I’m here for houjicha soft ice cream, made with this roasted Japanese green tea, less bitter than its matcha counterpart. Instead, it is nutty, with a wonderful roasted fragrance and lingering, delicate notes which coat your mouth even after you’ve finished your little midday treat.
I was the only one in the store, because obviously no one else was in the mood for a cold ice cream at 11.40 on a chilly weekday morning. (They also do quite a nice matcha latte, though.) I then had to walk out of the store with my ice cream and awkwardly hold my arm out in front of me, by myself, to take a picture for this story. As I’m immensely paranoid, obviously all eyes were on me.
And they stayed on me as I walked down Lorne Street, across to Civic Theatre and up to my office licking down a houjicha soft ice cream in the cold like an absolute freak. Vulnerable might be a good way to describe how I felt then, holding this cone of ice cream amongst all the scarfed and puffer-jacketed people on the street.
But it tasted so good. Aside from the flavour, the texture is intensely creamy, a lighter alternative to your regular scoops. I feel that soft-serve ice cream gets unfairly maligned most of the time, a hangover from eating too much of that gross 50c version you buy bare-foot in your local McDonalds during the height of summer.
I’m nearly finished by the time I make my way into the office, and my digital editor Tess Nichol slides down her headphones, already chuckling as I approach the desk. “You look like you’re wearing lip-liner or something,” she tells me.
I lick this lip-liner off. Mm. Delicious.
Houjicha soft ice cream: $6.80
Tsujiri: 10-14 Lorne St, central city