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Food For Thought Ice Cream Heaven
(Entered Sep. 17, 2006)
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Move over Baskin Robbins, see ya later Haagen-Dazs, you're about to find out how a real ice cream store operates. I don't know much about how it is in other countries, but here in Japan, Haagen-Dazs has been focusing a lot on getting it's products into boxes and into convenient stores. Recently they've been pushing their Crispy Sandwiches into our faces not to mention making so many new flavours that people are getting bored. Baskin Robbins prefers to focus on it's shops, but they've still got a lot to learn. Into the void comes Cold Stone Creamery. Hailing from the US, they've expanded all over the place and recently into Japan. So are they just a big bag of wind or do they have something worthwhile going on?

coldstone ice cream

Kumi, some friends, and I decided to find out. We headed to their flag store in Roppongi Hills and were greeted by chaos. I had expected some excitement, but I was unprepared for the massive momentum they've already gathered. When we arrived, there was a lineup going out of the store, around the building, and stopping somewhere over the horizon. In Canada, people might line up like this if Brad Pitt was serving the ice cream but here in Japan, it's just another day. We grudgingly entered the queue (well I grudged), and were politely told by a staff member that the lineup wait would be about an hour. An hour, waiting for ice cream, sigh... only in Japan do such things occur. Anyway I perked up a bit after he gave us a menu to peruse. There are a plethora of flavours, and three sizes: 'Like it', 'Love it', and the gargantuan 'Gotta Have it' which will set you back 900 yen (about $10). Two main things set Cold Stone apart from the other ice cream shops. One is that the list of condiments is a mile long with things like peanut butter, graham crumbs, cake, kit kat, etc., things that Baskin Robbins and Haagen-Dazs seem to have forgotten about.

coldstone ice cream

The other is that they mix and mash your creation together on a big slab of frozen granite, (Hence the name 'Cold Stone') then scrape it off into your cone, which are all baked daily I might add. Not sure if the sub-zero granite adds something to the taste, but it's kind of original I suppose. Here's my order being made, a 'Mud Pie Mojo' which is coffee ice cream mixed with Oreos, peanut butter, almonds, whipped cream and fudge sauce, mmmm boy!

coldstone ice cream

And here's the finished product! In the end, I decided to go for the 'Love it' size even though I was a bit full from dinner. Cold Stone also boasts that the ice cream is made fresh daily as well, but that seems like quite a feat to me. I wonder what they do with all the leftover ice cream at the end of the day then? Hmm... maybe I should look into a part time job...?

coldstone ice cream

The staff also sings while they work, a nice touch. They sang 'Hi Ho, off to work we go' a couple of times and happy birthday once but with minimal enthusiasm, time to work on your repertoire guys. When we neared the counter, they didn't sing however. Then I noticed a big jar that said 'We sing for tips'. I decide to keep my money.

coldstone ice cream

Then my camera battery ran out so I was forced to take the rest of my pics with my mobile phone. Here's everyones order, clockwise from the bottom we have: Mud Pie Mojo, Romancing the Cheesecake, Berry Berry Berry Good and Island Life. What fun!

coldstone ice cream

I tried all four of them of course, and obviously my mojo was the best. So are Haagen-Dazs and Baskin Robbins going to crawl away in shame? Well perhaps not. Although it was good, with fairly large quantities (for Japan) and I'll definitely be back, it was kinda expensive (580 yen for 'Love it') and like all new things, people will eventually have their fill of it and Cold Stone will no doubt be just another ice cream parlour in a couple years. In the meantime though, have a nice wait in line!

coldstone ice cream



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