The news says that yesterday was the hottest August day on record. So of course it was the same day that I and my roommate decided to ride our bikes to Sangenjaya, a station 4 stops away.
We were on a quest for some gourmet kakigori, shaved ice, and we heard of a place that was relatively nearby. Deciding to make a whole day of it, we would also take the old-fashioned tram that winds its way through the suburban Setagaya ward. By purchasing a cheap all-day pass, we could hop on and off the Setagaya line, with various sites such as a series of shrines and old-fashioned buildings that date older than the country of America itself.
First of all, the kakigori. We rolled up to what's basically an ice shop, with a small refridgerated truck parked along the street outside-- obviously they have to supplement the shaved ice with a side business. The shop itself (not a restaurant by any means) was basically the size of a small kitchen, with seating for about six people on rickety chairs and wooden tables. The feel is one of a local matsuri festival. The Obasan grandma tending the store was seated outside, as if waiting for us, the only customers. Friendly and talkative, she asked if I could read the menu, which was all in Japanese, and even though I said "a little bit" she proceed to read the entire menu in English-- "melon, strawberry, banana"-- while I and my roommate shifted on our feet in amused discomfort. We ordered on the "fancy" side of the menu -- Black Tea for me and Green Tea for my friend.
She gleefully chatted away about the difference between American crushed ice and Japanese shaved ice including a bit of history that I completely missed. The machine she used was 73 years old, but ran with a giant motorized belt that she turned on with a long lever. She layered the ice with tea that she hand-ground with a mortar and pestle and added some sweetened condensed milk. Here is the picture:
Some of the best desert I ever had! Not sure if was worth the exorbitant price of ¥650. Heck, the one-day pass and various drinks and snacks? The rest of our day combined was only just above above the same price!
About the time we were finishing, the shop swelled with four or five other customers dropping in and out, so surely this little spot was a local favorite.
here I am with the old ice machine, although we might have to go back to use a flash next time.