As soon as news circulated that the Japanese chain would be making its way to Toronto to open their first North American location - that's right, it landed in Canada first before heading south of the border!, I knew that I'd develop instant regrets for not trying out their creations in Hankyu when in Taiwan.
Among the sundaes, floats, and lattes, it took me quite some time to narrow down an option that was worth its mindblowing markup. One of the girls recommended a yuzu-inspired beverage, nothing its refreshing properties, though I was leaning more towards their specialty: matcha.
Shaved ice, or more commonly known as カキ氷 is a popular treat at summer festivals in Japan. Traditionally, blocks of ice are hand-shaven to achieve a layered, flaky texture and then layered with flavoured syrups and toppings such as anko (sweetened red bean paste). In the modern world where efficiency is key, it's more common to invest in machines with ice-shaving capabilities. Unlike Taiwanese snow ice, which is creamy and often takes the form of a pile of wavy ribbon, kakigori obtains its flavour by the consistent layering of ice and syrup.
The kakigori was notably delicious and well-textured, and possessed the right amount of matcha syrup in every spoonful. Rather typical of Japanese ice cream, the soft serve was on the melty side, and was nowhere near as intensely grassy as I had hoped. Nonetheless, the combination of the two were fantastic and made for a great post-lunchtime treat.
The O-Matcha Cappuccino was successful in satisfying my matcha cravings, and also contained a proper depth of flavour. Though, it wouldn't be an item I would return solely for. Within closer reach is Nohohon, which embodies speedier service, allows the addition of matcha shots (if desired), participates in handy smartphone apps like Ritual and Vicinity, and embraces all forms of payment (credit, debit, and cash).
Given that the employees are just as new to the establishment as many of the customers, I should hope that their actions become swifter with the progression of time. In addition, it wouldn't hurt to add credit as a form of payment to prevent the tedious process of making change.
I took to conversing with the girl directly behind me in line as we gradually inched towards the cashier. It was also her first visit, in which she ordered a Tsujiri Milk Ice Blended. Despite being termed a "milkshake" in Japanese, it was resembled something along the lines of a Frappuccino (without the disgusting sugar-based green tea powder) and a chiller/slushie. A friend of hers joined the lineup later on and ordered the ever-so-popular Shiratama Sundae. Among their other options were macarons (featured in the album) and a Sakura Sundae that they had unfortunately ran out of at an alarming rate. Oh well, there's always next time!
And apparently I wasn't the only one. A middle-aged lady dashed inwards just seconds before me to pick up one of the famed Japanese cheesecakes.
Also spotted were promotional cards for this year's headliners at Toronto Kpop Con: VIXX and GOT7! (Needless to say, I've already purchased tickets to both of these shows ehehe.)
Sorry, but I'll stick with Uncle Tetsu. (There aren't even any lineups anyway.)