Food

GOMAYA KUKI — The World’s Richest Sesame Ice Cream?

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GOMAYA KUKI in Harajuku, Tokyo, makes the bold claim of serving the world’s richest sesame ice cream. With 9,000 sesame seeds per 2-scoop serving, it certainly sounds like the real deal! Henry from Voyagin investigates…

Visiting GOMAYA KUKI

Bright and early one fresh November morning, I finally went down to GOMAYA KUKI to see what all the fuss was about. Well, it was bright enough anyway, but actually not so early since the store doesn’t open until 11am… Ok, so I got there a little past noon — I had a lot of things on that morning!

Quite a claim, but Riho-chan keep going back! Credit: @rihochan_des

I’d heard that this place, which used to be based in Omotesando, was not only home to the best goma (sesame) ice cream on the planet, but also an Instagram hotspot. While I’m hardly an Instagram superstar, I do love sampling these Japanese twists on old favorites, and who doesn’t want a good foodstagram to show off? I’d had goma soft ice before, but this was the real deal, as I was about to find out.

After a short walk from JR Harakuju Station, I was stepping into GOMAYA KUKI and was pleasantly surprised at just how serene the place was. Not too crowded, quiet music tinkling away in the background, and one staff member waiting patiently behind the counter. Quite rightly for a Japanese foodie spot, the shop was fitted out in autumn décor to match the seasonal menu — as locals will know, the passing of the seasons is closely observed in Japan, never more so than when it comes to food.

Autumn interior of GOMAYA KUKI
Autumnal decor to match the menu

After looking around and poring over the menu I was ready to take the plunge — the staff were typically shy of their English but committed to excellent service, and did their best to help me. They pulled out their translation app faster than I could grab mine, and explained exactly what was inside the Autumnal Houjicha Parfait that I had my eye on. Without further ado, I dove straight in.

GOMAYA KUKI smiling staff
One scoop of intense sesame seed ice cream coming up!

Parfait the Course

Of course, I just had to have that seasonal parfait—but wait! “What is a parfait” I hear you ask? Well, you or I might know it as a sundae,  but let’s not get bogged down in semantics now—suffice to say this was an excellent choice (if I do say so myself) and quite the culinary journey I can tell you.

Parfait and sesame seeds

Pumpkin: the first thing my spoon picked up was the sweet pumpkin puree — we do love a bit of pumpkin here in Japan — and I must say I was delighted. Like a dollop of pumpkin pie on top of the ice cream, my taste buds were immediately aware this was a seasonal experience and were well primed for the salty follow-up that was on the way.

Black Salted Sesame Ice Cream: this stuff was INTENSE! Not for the faint of heart, the sweet, salty, and bitter aspects of this scoop seem to fight over your tongue and left mine reeling, just a little bit. I was immediately glad to have made the trip here and equally pleased to have chosen the parfait and been immediately able to balance it out with the next spoonful.

Chunky Multigrain: a smooth, well-balanced follow-up to the Salted Sesame, this was more like a sweetened scoop of tahini or halva, and the chunky grains added a pleasant texture that helped prepare me for the next mouthful.

Some people just can’t get enough sesame! Credit: @moraine1023

Sesame Whipped Cream: what would a parfait be without whipped cream? Nothing, that’s what, and after alternating between salty and chunky a little bit of sesame-tinged cream went down very nicely. Ok, so maybe it would still be a sundae… anyway I digress… moving on.

These four elements very much made my parfait adventure, but honorable mentions go to the walnut pieces & water chestnuts, the houjicha (roasted green tea) jelly, and the surprise chewy dango (sweet rice dumplings) that I found near the bottom. The lower layers contrasted well with the intense ice creams atop the parfait, but be warned you could get too used to the sesame flavor explosion. If so, don’t forget there are sesame seed shakers and aromatic sesame oil on hand if you need a bit more!

Donut Disturb

Even after all that, I still felt my dessert tummy was not yet full, and I knew there were still more sesame adventures waiting for me. One of the reviews I read beforehand suggested the flavors might work well in an ice cream sandwich, and my eyes were drawn to another item on the menu that would let me experience more goma ice cream flavors in a new and unexpected way: Gomayakuki’s Deep Fried Bread with Sesame Ice Cream. The name of this sweet treat had me intrigued—but make no mistake! This is a donut!!

GOMAYA KUKI ice cream donut
Tasting the Deep Fried Bread while the maestros work on their next creation

I admit it was ambitious taking on back-to-back desserts, and the sweetness overwhelmed me this time, but I was glad I had a chance to taste two more great flavors: Rich Black, and Triple Rich White. Highly recommended for donut lovers!

Verdict

Without a doubt, GOMAYA KUKI is an ice cream experience unique in Tokyo and probably the world. Whether you love sesame ice cream, are looking for dessert adventures, or just want some intriguing Instagram fodder, this place is hidden gem well worth a short stroll from Takeshita Dori. You won’t regret it!

Credit: @purinanzai

Menu

Rich Goma Ice
The heart of the GOMAYA KUKI experience is their six flavors. The 500 yen cup gives you 2 scoops, 2 flavors, and those famous 9,000 sesame seeds:

Rich Black – Triple Rich Black – Rich White – Triple Rich White – Salted Sesame – Chunky Multigrain

Counter Menu
Heartier fare, many items on the counter menu can actually be made ‘to go’ despite the name:

The Autumnal Houjicha Parfait – Super Fluffy Pancakes – Gomayakuki’s Deep Fried Bread with Sesame Ice Cream – GOMAYA KUKI’s Coffee Red Bean Soup – Very Rich Sesame Ice Cream Tempura (Black or White) ­– Sesame Covered Sesame Ice Cream Tempura (Black or White) – 6 Flavor Ice Cream Taster Set

Drinks
Soy Smoothie (Black or White Sesame) – Sesame Latte Made with 6,000 Sesame Seeds (Hot or Iced) – Houjicha – Green Tea – Hand Drip Coffee – Café au lait

You’ll also find extra sesame seeds and aromatic sesame oil on the counter if you a need a little bit more, and other sesame products are scattered around the store shelves waiting for die-hard goma fans to take them home.

Getting There

You wouldn’t just stumble across it, but finding GOMAYA KUKI is easy if you know where to look: head south-east down the hill from the crossroads outside Meiji-jingumae “Harajuku” Metro Station. Pass the elevator-only station exit, take the second left, and it’s on your right before you know it! In my case quite literally, I did almost walk past the store since it is set back a little from the street, but I had my eyes open and soon caught myself.

Outside GOMAYA KUKI

The home of Triple Rich Black sesame ice cream

Not an ice cream I will be forgetting any time soon. If you decide to try it yourself, drop us a line at Voyagin to let us know what you think!

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