By Cathy Cawood
Ise-Shima National Park, located on the coast area of Mie Prefecture, is well known for its fresh and tasty seafood cuisine. But, it apparently has some strange elements, too, as I soon found out.
This area is blessed with abundant nutrition that flows through the river to the Toba Sea, which results in rich seafood. The lifestyle of the local people that's strongly related to traditional wisdom also supports the environmental sustainability of the sea resources.
One of the most famous seafood in Ise-Shima is Ise Lobster (Japanese spiny lobster). It is reputedly one of the most expensive lobsters in Japan. From autumn to mid spring, many tourists come to Ise-Shima to taste the lobster for their lunch or dinner. Most of the Ise-Lobster will be served grilled, fried, or served as sashimi. However, if you come to Oharaimachi, the old-style Japanese shopping street located just right in front Ise Jingu in Ise City, you will find an unusual Ise lobster cuisine. The Ise Lobster is served as ice-cream or "soft cream." Yes, soft ice cream!
You can find this ice cream in front of the Iwatoya (岩戸屋）souvenir shop in Oharaimachi. Though this ice cream name sounds extremely weird, surprisingly, it is still easy to eat. The vanilla flavor is still dominant. However, it leaves the taste of lobster at the end. You can imagine it's like eating shrimp crackers in the shape of soft ice cream. In the last bites, the lobster tastes stronger and even leaves a little spiciness in your mouth.
If you are a food hunter or a fan of a culinary challenge, then trying this strange-but-real ice cream is worth a try! Not brave enough to try it? Let's start the challenge by trying the Ise lobster - Sakura (cherry) ice cream in the same shop. You will get a half of the lobster flavor ice cream and a half of the sakura flavor. The sweet taste of cherry will help you to win the flavor of lobster. But if you are not into a food challenge, there is still plenty of Ise-Shima soft ice cream varieties offered in Oharaimachi, such as Ise tea and matcha.
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