What is the definition of delicious shaved ice?
Text : Keiko Nakamura / Photo : Kanako Takimoto
Humid and hot summer in Kyoto makes us often feel, “I want to eat delicious shaved ice to cool myself down”. What is the definition of delicious shaved ice? Almost all people might think that it is about toppings and syrup. However, most of the ingredient of shaved ice is water. I need to hear more people saying that the delicious shaved ice is based on good quality water. Since ice is delicious, so that syrup and toppings can stand out. I though about this when I encountered this special shaved ice called ‘Saiun’.
Kyo confectionery store, Nijowakasaya is going to reach their 100th year since their establishment in 1917. You can order ‘Saiun’ (1,512 yen) on the second floor teahouse of Teramachi store. Ms. Mayumi Oishi serves as the manger here, who is also a younger sister of the 4th president of the company. Ms. Oishi loves sweets and devoted herself to study them by biking around the city and visiting Japanese-style sweets cafe and she created new menus by herself, and as a result, she became the manger of this store after they opened a teahouse 3 years ago. She is particular about shaved ice saying, “If you run a business of Japanese-style sweets cafe, shaved ice needs to be more than delicious”. They have several kinds of shaved ice such as ‘Hoji-cha ice’ and ‘Uji-kintoki’, but ‘Saiun’ which you can enjoy fresh fruits with 5 different syrups is especially full of originality.
I was amazed by a mild taste of water they served after I ordered shaved ice. My expectations were getting higher and higher. It seems that a lot of customers get impressed by its water taste.
After for a while, I heard the sound of crushing ice far inside of kitchen. I asked them if I could watch what they were doing and I saw they manually crushed ice by old ice-shaving machine. Ms. Oishi said, “We draw water from 30 m underground. The place is close to ‘Somei-no-mizu’ at Nashiki-jinja Shrine, which is considered as one of the three great wells in Kyoto, so that it is very soft and delicious”.
When they opened the cafe, they had bought ice from an ice shop, but they knew that there was already good quality water underneath of their store, so it became a plan that they were going to make ice by themselves. She said, “Our distinctive way to make ice is to freeze water slowly in -4 ℃ ~ -7℃ taking for 3 days”. A usual temperature setting at our home freezer is around -18℃, so it’s quite higher temperature compared to that. I saw that water is dropping while shaving ice.
First of all, I just ate ice itself out of heaping full of ice. Usually, I was going to have a quick but strong headache after I eat cold ice into my mouth, but miraculously I didn’t have any headaches because the ice was frozen slowly. Very soft and delicate taste. There is no other unpleasant taste and it made sure that it was very pure water.
Next, I put 5 different kinds of home-made syrup on top of ice. Bittersweet ‘Kiyomi orange’, ‘Kiwi fruit’, and ‘apple and wealthy and tasty ‘Bekko candy’ and ‘Black sugar milk’. In order to let their ingredient stand out, they produced compote syrup which is concentrated vey nicely. Because the ice was not that cold at all, so that soft and kind taste was delivered to my mouth. According to a season and a day you are in, syrup lineups will be different. Since they have relatives in Ehime Prefecture, so that you are going to have 3 fresh seasonal fruits syrups always. In addition to its colorful syrups, it is fun to see small cut fruits inside of the soft shaved ice. However, the most impressive thing I saw was that syrups and cut fruits act as supporting players. They don’t disturb the taste of ice and moreover they try to enhance the main player’s taste. Ms. Oishi said, “I wanted to make shaved ice using the delicious water at the maximum.” I felt like giving a round of applause to its effective direction saying, ‘Good job’. Soft and kind taste lasted till the end and I felt this was very Kyoto like. Yes, that was the same feeling when I had foods and Kyo-ryori which is cooked with groundwater in Kyoto. I think water is the origin of food.
There will be a long line waiting for this shaved ice in summer time. However, their fans will come to eat shaved ice on a year-round menu in winter time. It is not too cold, and it is not going to be melt easily, so that people can eat it slowly. Not to get away from heat and humid, it is because the ice is very good.
ADDRESS : 67 Enoki-cho, Teramachi-dori Nijo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-256-2280
HOURS : 9:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m. (cafe : 10:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m.)
CLOSED : Wednesday