After discovering kinako ice cream and falling head over heels in love, I was on the hunt for more. Perpetually Underwhelmed recommended Gion Kinana which is known for its fresh ice creams and parfaits. It’s located in the heart of the geisha district, a most historic and charming spot to spend the afternoon indulging on something sweet.
We were told the wait would be 40 minutes, but as you may guess it was definitely shorter. The shop is small but quaint. If you don’t want to wait for a table upstairs, you’re more than welcome to stand at the bar to enjoy the dekitate, which refers to the freshly churned just made ice cream of the day before it is frozen. Freezing ice cream definitely changes the texture. The day we came, the dekitate flavor was kinako. I was doing cartwheels inside my head!
We were seated with English menus, but I noticed the Japanese menus seemed to have more pages and options. I felt a little jilted, but I take what I can get and I was lucky they even had English menus.
The earthy roasty toasty aroma of the tea was comforting and the perfect accompaniment to the sweet treats.
Dekitate kinako ice cream
The kinako was so delicate and barely sweetened. The texture was indeed as soft and smoothe as I had expected. But because the ice cream was barely sweet the kinako flavor was barely noticeable. I would have appreciated a bit more sugar to enhance that roasted soy bean flour flavor. Overall delicious.
Berry Berry Kinana kinako, matcha, kurogoma ice creams, yogurt, blueberry sauce, brown rice cereal, buckwheat flour crackers, raspberries, mochi, american cherry, yatsuhashi cookie
The parfait was visually stunning. My stomach was grumbling. All the other ice creams were similarly light on sweetness and flavor. The flavors of black sesame and matcha were barely there. On the bright side, I was able to eat a lot because it was so light. The bottom layer of plain yogurt added another layer of flavor. The ice cream wasn’t dekitate but it was still just as creamy and delicate. The bits of cookies, cereal, and mochi added great texture.
Gion Kinana is an utter delight for anyone who loves sweets and ice creams. You definitely get a feel for how Japanese like to do their desserts, very not sweet. You can eat a lot of it and not feel inundated with sugar, but the flavor is not as intense. I would have appreciated a bit more sugar so the kinako, black sesame, and matcha flavors could shine more brightly. Overall, I loved this place and wish I could have tried the other parfait flavors!
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here