Kakigori, or shaved ice, can be dated back to the 11th century in Japan!! Since then, the Japanese people have enjoyed this summer dessert in many ways.
In the old days, it was common to use natural ice for the Kakigori, but with the introduction of the freezer, it is rare to find Kakigori with natural ice.
At Kanna, a Japanese restaurant in Setagaya, they make Kakigori out of pure, natural ice made in Nikko city, Tochigi prefecture. This ice is the secret to such a soft, fluffy Kakigori that melts instantly in your mouth. The special ice is nurtured over several months at Himuros, specialized Ice Houses. The ice making starts in early October, first by clearing out the pool for the ice which become the ice farms, and then by filtering the mineral water through natural rock filters. The actual ice making starts in December, and the ice thickens about 1cm per day. Taking about 2 weeks to become 14-15 cm under strict supervision by the Himuro owners, the perfect ice for Kakigori is made. The ice is then cut on the farm and placed in the Himuro, and the blocks of ice await to be shaved.
There are only 6 Himuros all over Japan, and 3 of them are located in Nikko, Tochigi thanks to the abundance of pure, natural mineral water from the mountains of Nikko. The most famous Himuro is the Shogetsu Himuro, established in 1894. The way they produce the natural ice has been passed down for decades, and has not changed since then.
Restaurant Kanna uses the precious ice from this Himuro. They have tried several hundred varieties of toppings and syrups to come out with the best match for the special Shogetsu ice. They constantly have 20 varieties of hand-made syrup, and they pair it with toppings that best match the soft, fluffy ice, using both Japanese and Western ingredients.
My favorite was the Strawberry Yogurt flavored Kakigori!!!!! The tangy strawberry and the creamy yogurt together with the fluffy ice was pure harmony in the mouth.
Matcha with red bean paste is also a must-try.
Enjoy a taste of summer this weekend before we officially enter autumn!