So, what’s special about this white soda? Well, the main ingredient, for one thing!
This drink, called “Shari Cola“, is being offered at the conveyor belt sushi chain Kura Zushi from July 29, and it contains an unexpected ingredient — rice, or malted rice (kome kouji) to be exact.
Kura Zushi has always been keen on developing original items focusing on rice, which is, after all, a key element of sushi. Since entering the U.S. market 10 years ago, the sushi chain has apparently been impressed with how popular cola is internationally and became interested in creating an original cola drink that fits their restaurant image. And now they’ve developed a cola made with rice! The name Shari Cola is pretty clever too, since the word shari refers specifically to rice used in sushi.
In their efforts to create a unique drink, the folks at Kura Zushi turned their attention to malted rice, which is made by fermenting steamed rice and is said to have been used in Japanese cuisine from over 1,000 years ago. The fermentation process apparently saccharizes the starch in the rice and enhances its subtly sweet flavor. They’ve also included a tiny hint of rice vinegar to add a bit of refreshing zest to the drink.
▼ The rice used in Shari Cola is completely Japan-grown and is more highly polished than the rice typically used in amazake, a sweet fermented sake drink also made using malted rice.
Shari Cola is actually made from an amazake drink produced by a well-established Kyoto sake manufacturer and created with quality Japanese rice, malted rice and water from a renowned water source in Kyoto said to have been used by legendary tea master Sen no Rikyū. Amazake in general has long been considered a kind of energy drink, especially in the hot summer, as it contains all nine essential amino acids the human body is unable to create on its own, and Kura Zushi is promoting the cola as a healthy drink suitable for people of all ages.
Admittedly, we’re not quite sure what a soda made from rice might taste like, but if you’re interested in getting a bit of a “rice power boost”, Shari Cola is available at Kura Zushi locations across Japan for 194 yen (US$1.84).