There’s no other way to say it…it’s hot! The heat and humidity actually provided me with the initiative to write a post listing 15 Ways to Beat the Japanese Summer Heat and Humidity. One of my favorites on that list was the ice-cream remedy.* I am a self-professing ice-cream lover and I know some of you reading this out there are, too (right Nanami? Roger? Ceci? Devin? ). This wasn’t a Japan-induced thing either…I’VE ALWAYS BEEN AN ICE CREAM FAN! The vast majority of the time if I wanted ice cream I would just buy it from the grocery store, and I’m not talking about those little cute cups of Japanese ice cream…I grab a pint (if it was just me) or a gallon (if the ice cream was for the family)!
*Sadly, ice cream is about to be completely cut out of my summer diet…it’s time to get sexy (in a manly way) for those summertime visits to the beach
On occasion, though, I would want to experience more than just opening up the freezer, grabbing a pint of Edy’s or Ben and Jerry’s. There were times when I wanted the real deal from a proper ice cream shop. I didn’t go very often, but whenever I went, it…was…delicious! The three shops that I liked most back home were Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors, Cold Stone Creamery, and Bruster’s. The former two were my absolute favorites.
Suffice it to say, I was more than pleased when I found out that my two favorite ice cream shops were running strong right here in Japan. I went to Cold Stone Creamery last weekend for a “Cookie Minster” pick-me-up. As I was sitting there, sensuously enjoying every sweet bite (I’m sure people were looking at me like “What the freak’s wrong with that crazy gaijin dude”) I began to wonder “Which do I like better between Baskin Robbins and Cold Stone Creamery?” Hmmmm…..that’s an extremely tough question, but it was a question that I was more than happy to research. After some thorough taste testing and a bit of a stomachache, I think I’ve made my choice. Let’s take a brief look at the ice cream offerings for each store here in Japan, as they can be quite varied from their American, sister stores.
Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors Japan at a Glance
Baskin Robbins, the defending champion, been serving delicious ice cream since 1945. I must say that I Baskin Robbins is somewhat nostalgic for me. I remember loving the Bubble Gum ice cream as a kid. I remember eating ice cream from this shop when my father was stationed in Germany. Although the ice cream shop usually serves 31 flavors at a given time, there have been so many different, delectable, Baskin Robbins creations. Some of the flavors are seasonal, while they also have a base selection of flavors that (for the most part) stays the same. Here in Japan, the Baskin Robbins base consists of 22 flavors:
1.Vanilla, 2. Strawberry Cheesecake, 3. Chocolate Mint, 4. Very Berry Strawberry, 5. Caramel Ribbon, 6. Popping Shower, 7. Love Potion # 31, 8. Oreo Cookies and Cream, 9. Matcha (Green Tea), 10. Jamoca Coffee, 11. Chocolate Chip, 12. Rum Raisin, 13. Chopped Chocolate, 14. Musk Melon, 15. Bananas N Strawberry, 16. Nuts to You, 17. Orange Sherbet, 18. Chocolate, 19. Jamoca Almond Fudge, 20. Rocky Road, 21. Lemon Sherbet, 22. Dainagon Azuki
The seasonal flavors for June, July, and August comprise the other 16 flavors:
Cream Soda, Mango Coconapple, Annin-Dofu, Choco-Chip Cookie Dough, Mango Sorbet, Blueberry Panna Cotta, Peach Melba, Cotton Candy, Easter Party, Pineapple Sorbet, Custard Pudding, Box of Chocolates, Cappuccino Biscotti, Fruity Dew Sorbet, Creamy Orange Muffin, and Lemon Cranberry Cheescake.
“Wait a second! Donald, that’s more than 31. What kinda trick are you tryin’ to pull?” No tricks, lol. Yes this is more than 31 flavors, but Baskin Robbins switches out the seasonal flavors. Some may be offered only in June, July, or August (respectively) while some seasonal flavors are popular enough to last for two months or the whole summer. But there will only be 31 offered at one time.
Baskin Robbins also serves other products as well such as crepes, floats, sundaes, shakes, and cakes. I am a huge fan of their ice-cream cakes.
Cold Stone Creamery Japan at a Glance
The challenger, been delivering the ol’ ice-cream one-two since 1988. Has become quite well known for premium ice cream, creative flavors, and an overall ice-cream experience that’s pretty hard for any ice cream shop to match. The Cold Stone Creamery base is made up of 24 flavors here in Japan:
1. Strawberry Shortcake Serenade, 2. Berry Berry Good, 3. Oreo Overload, 4. Caramel Turtle Temptation, 5. Chocolate Devotion, 6. Germanchokolatekake, 7. Chocolate Ribbon, 8. Strawberry Dates Banana, 9. Berry Angel of Spring, 10. Our Strawberry Blonde, 11. Banana Caramel Crunch, 12. Coconut Cream Pie, 13. Breathless Boston Cream Pie, 14. Love and Cheese, 15. Cheesecake Fantasy, 16. Say Cheese, 17. Fruits’ n Banana Boat, 18. At the Cocoa Banana Cabana, 19. Manhattan Banana Brownie, 20. Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip, 21. Cookie Minster, 22. Greeeeeeeen Tea Party, 23. Nut-Tea Cookie, 24. Mud Pie Mojo
The other flavors include 25. Golden Pine, 26. Freezy Berry, 27. Oriental Annin Peach, 28. Peach Cheeky, 29. Blushing Mango Cloud, and 30. Mango Typhoon (sadly one of my Cold Stone favorites, Apple Pie A La Mode, isn’t around anymore…but nothing’s ever final in the ice cream world, it may make a comeback).
Cold Stone also has a nice selection of extra offerings as well: birthday cakes, roll cakes, ice-cream sandwiches, shakes, and more.
So Which Do I Think Is Better Between Baskin Robbins Japan and Cold Stone Creamery Japan?
I’m going to break this down simply. If you’re looking for a richer-flavored ice cream, Cold Stone may be the shop for you. If you’re looking for a cool ice-cream experience, Cold Stone may be the shop for you. There’s something that’s quite cool about them doing the mixing right in front of you. The Cold Stone lady let me snap a few pictures while she was making Cookie Minster. It’s a simple concept, that not only adds a touch of class to the Cold Stone Stores, but really sets them far apart from other shops.
But for me, as much as I love Cold Stone Creamery (it is truly an amazing ice cream shop), I’m not crazy about all of their creations. If we’re talking about bare-bones which ice cream is better, I choose Baskin Robbins. Why? Because there are so many flavors that I’ve liked, the instant I’ve tried them. Baskin Robbins has so many flavors that are truly good that it makes choosing three scoops difficult, two scoops a mind-boggling test, and one scoop…nigh impossible. For example Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream was one that I never tried, but a friend recommended it, and it was INCREDIBLY GOOD!
Baskin Robbins wins by a 12-round decision.
It’s poll time!!