As one of the main fundamentals of Japanese cuisine, it isn’t that weird to find soy in a variety of food products in Japan. There’s natto, miso, tofu, and of course we couldn’t end a list about soy without mentioning the king of Japanese condiments; soy sauce. Most people will associate the salty condiment with sushi, where it is commonly used to subdue the fishy odors and bring out umami, but the sauce is actually used for much more than just a dip for raw fish, and can be found in just about anything, from main dishes like ramen to snacks such as senbei crackers.
In fact, soy sauce can even be enjoyed as a sweet snack or dessert. How can something that is super salty be enjoyed as a sweet? You might ask. Well, if you’re a long-time lover of traditional Japanese sweets then you must have heard of mitarashi dango – skewered rice dumplings covered in a sweet soy sauce glaze. The classic treat isn’t as salty as might be expected, and actually pairs rather well with a mug of matcha.
For those looking for a dessert that is truly inspired by soy sauce (i’m looking at you salted popcorn lovers), this Japanese shaved ice kakigori from Hamada Soy Sauce Brewery replicates the condiment from colour to taste.

Hamada Soy Sauce Brewery is both an active soy sauce factory and museum dedicated to crafting the popular table condiment. The Kumamoto earthquake of 2016 left the 200 year-old brewery in ruins. Luckily, world-renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma took on the challenge of rebuilding the structure. After 3 years of renovations, Hamada Soy Sauce Brewery opened back up in 2019 with the addition of their onsite cafe, ‘Usagi Cafe’, and an interior featuring dark walls and bamboo designs that make the building feel more like an art exhibition space than a condiment factory.
It is both the atmosphere of the brewery and the characteristics of soy sauce that are behind the inspiration for the soy sauce flavoured kakigori, which is available to try at the Usagi Cafe.

Unique to the brewery, the jet black kakigori is true to soy sauce, featuring stylish shavings of black ice coloured by bamboo charcoal, and a salty soy sauce flavour that can be both expected and a shock to the system.

In order to create a kakigori bowl that faithfully resembles soy sauce, Usagi Cafe utilizes raw soy sauce for every part of their Jet Black Kakigori, from the honey drizzled on top, to the fresh cream sauce and ice cream used within the shaved ice. To top it off, the dessert is decorated with black beans and black rice dumplings, which are piled up on the side.

The dessert owes it’s deep black colour to bamboo charcoal sourced from bamboo specialty store Taketora. In addition to being pesticide and additive-free, Taketora’s bamboo charcoal purifies the ice and contains abundant natural minerals that are good for both beauty and health. Noted benefits of consuming charcoal bamboo include body detoxification and intestinal improvements.

If you happen to be in Western Japan this summer, and looking for a unique dish to help keep you cool, this soy-sauce flavoured Jet Black Kakigori is available from Usagi Cafe at the Hamada Soy Sauce factory

Usagi Cafe
Hamada Soy Brewery, Ltd. 6-9-1 Oshima, Nishi-ku, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto Prefecture 861-5287

By - Connie Sceaphierde.