Archive | May, 2013

Oh, Miso Ice Cream!

31 May


I seem to be on a popsicle kick lately. One of the supermarkets I frequent in KL has a fancy popsicle stand called G-Stick, and they had a limited edition run of Japanese-themed popsicles, including Miso Hazelnut, Wasabi, and…Lavender. (I guess Hokkaido is famous for its lavender fields, but it’s not the first thing I think of when imagining Japanese flavors.) I wasn’t too impressed with my last wasabi-flavored sweets experience, so I went with the miso.

ImageMiso is a fermented soybean paste that most people have probably encountered in the form of miso soup. It’s salty and packed with umami, and in Japanese cooking, it’s often combined with sugar for a savory-sweet flavoring; misoyaki butterfish is a good example. Miso also pairs well with fats, like mayonnaise, so miso ice cream isn’t actually that much of a stretch.

The actual product didn’t have as strong of a miso flavor as I expected. It tasted a bit like salted caramel ice cream, but with a stronger nutty/savory undertone. What I found weirder than the miso ice cream was the wee belt of nori (seaweed). I understand that it makes a cute accent, but I think chocolate would have paired better with the ice cream. Maybe the nori should have been on the wasabi popsicle, maybe with a sushi rice-flavored glaze for the full effect? G-Stick, are you up for the challenge?


Let’s blow this popsicle stand

20 May

OMG, the baby is asleep! Quick, write a blog post!

Potong popsicle stand

In Malaysia, the icy treat we know as a popsicle is called an ais krim potong (literally, chopped ice cream). For whatever reason, they’re usually round — maybe they’re made in the same molds as tube ice? — and come in classic flavors like red bean, yam, and black mochi rice. (What can I say, Asians do sweets a little bit differently.)

As in the West (plus Australia), someone has decided to do an artisan/hipster take on the lowly potong in KL, and they’re calling themselves — what else? — The Potong. (That’s their adorably twee popsicle cart above.) The coconut chocolate flavor appears to be the crowd favorite, as it’s always sold out, but I’m always drawn to their seasonal flavors like pineapple chili.

Potong popsicle

It’s all about the packaging.

Their most recent line, for spring, featured floral flavors; I tried the lychee with rose water. I was a little nervous because rose water confections often taste like soap, but the floral notes were pretty subdued; the orange zest tended to dominate the more subtle flavors of the lychee and the rose. Still, it’s hard to resist such a poetic combination. The Potong, I’m looking forward to your summer collection.

If your iPad gave you Diet Coke…

4 May

Touch-screen vending machine

Japan is widely recognized as the Mecca of vending machines. The newest twist is a touch-screen version. Instead of buttons (as in the US) or empty cans, there’s a giant high-def display of your beverage choices, which you select by touching. I’m not sure what the advantage of this is over displaying actual cans, except maybe reeling people in with the “Ooh, touch screen!” factor. I guess you could show ads and such when it’s not being used for vending. Maybe in the future you’d be able to check your Facebook while waiting for your frosty (or hot! Japanese vending machines can heat and cool) beverage.

I totally fell for the “Ooh, touch screen” myself, and treated myself to a hot Calpico, which is what they call Calpis in the US to avoid the unfortunate homophonic connotations of the original name when pronounced by English speakers, especially Americans. (The Japanese pronunciation sounds more like “karupisu”.) (Also, Googling “calpis” led me to a homemade calpis recipe, which excites me to no end, as it’s quite expensive to buy outside of Japan.) Calpico is a yogurt-based soft drink, and tastes a little like the beverage form of the Korean frozen yogurt that was trendy a few years ago (“plain” flavor, of course). I’ve only ever had it cold, with or without fizz, so the hot version was something new. I have to say that, like frozen yogurt, Calpico is best served iced. But at least it gave me an excuse to use a cool vending machine!