Last spring, we spent an afternoon drooling over photos from a bakery in the city of Kanazawa that came up with the ingenious idea of combining melon bread with ice cream. Unfortunately, the four-and-a-half hour train journey from Tokyo to Ishikawa kept us from picking up some samples of the tasty-looking treats.
But now our dairy-based prayers have been answered, as the same bakery has opened a new location in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward. Since that’s just three stops away from the RocketNews24 offices in Shinjuku, as soon as we found out about the new branch, we were on the next train.
The lengthy name of the shop, Sekai de Nibanme ni Oishii Yakitate Melon Pan Aisu, translates as “The Second-Most Delicious Ice Cream Melon Bread in the World.” The self-depreciating name is a sign of respect from the owner to the baker he did an apprenticeship under.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating melon bread, you might be surprised to find that it doesn’t taste like fruit at all. Instead, it’s got a buttery, sweet flavor that’s made it one of Japan’s most popular baked goods.
Beckoned by the enticing smell of freshly baked bread, we walked up to the counter, placed our order, and handed over our 350 yen (US$3.45). Since Sekai de Nibanme ni Oishii Yakitate Melon Pan Aisu’s Shibuya branch is just a take-out counter, we staked out a spot on the sidewalk in which to perform our taste-test.
As we took a bite, we were greeted with the crispness of the melon bread’s sugar-sprinkled outer edge, with a soft, fluffy layer beneath it. All of this mixed with the smooth flavor of the vanilla ice cream, creating a perfectly harmonious blend of flavors and textures in our mouth. There was even a bit of extra crunchiness provided by the melon bread rusk chunks the dessert is garnished with.
Since melon bread itself isn’t so overpoweringly sweet, if we’re being completely honest, we would have been OK with an even sweeter ice cream than what’s used. That said, each individual serving of ice cream melon bread is pretty big by Japanese standards, so maybe the bakery knows what it’s doing by going for a milder taste you won’t get tired of half-way through.
Speaking of eating half an order, while we were enjoying our ice cream melon bread we saw two girls come up and order one to share, which the staff was then happy to slice into two pieces for them.
As incorrigible dessert fiends, though, we were happy to have a whole one to ourselves. The only drawback we could find is that since the bread is still warm from the oven, the ice cream melts pretty quickly, and we had to be careful not to drip it on our clothes. Aside from that, though, we think ice cream melon bread is a worthy addition to the pantheon of dessert-enhanced sweets, and if you’re in the mood for something a little more Japanese than apple pie a la mode or an ice-cream topped brownie, we totally recommend it.
Sekai de Nibanme ni Oishii Yakitate Meron Pan / 世界で2番目においしい焼き立てメロンパンアイス
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jinnan 1-15-0, Iwase Building
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]