Gion Koishi 祇園小石
A refreshing sweet treat
When the Japanese heat gets too stifling, the shaved ice at Gion Koishi will definitely help you chill out.
You'll be disappointed if you visit a traditional Japanese dessert shop hoping to feast on Western-style desserts, overly sweet and drowning in syrup or whipped cream. Traditional Japanese desserts rely less on sugar, a longtime luxury in Japan since it had to be imported, than it does on aesthetics, as is the case with most Japanese cuisine. In addition, Japanese desserts (wagashi) consist mostly of mochi and red bean paste, which leave a unique and natural taste. Like so much in Japan, the gently sweet treats are very simple, sometimes deceptively so. For many visitors the first bite is a surprise for the taste buds, and it may take some getting used to this new sensory experience.
At Gion Koishi, flavored shaved ice (kakigori) with green tea syrup or kokuto, Okinawan brown sugar, the specialty of the house, is eaten until the end of summer. But the creator of these treats saves other treasures for the rest of the year, such as warabimochi, a gelatinous morsel made from warabiko (fern root flour), sprinkled with kinako, powdered roasted soybeans. Basted with whole soy milk, these are very satisfying because despite their small size, warabimochi are very filling. A real journey of the senses and delightful experience, Gion Koishi, a victim of its own success, is well worth the half hour queue at the entrance to the store.