Zenzai is a Japanese soup consisting of mochi and sweet red azuki beans. In Okinawa, it’s transformed into a refreshing summer treat, with the addition of shaved ice. Sounds confusing? Read on for clarification.
Okinawa vs the rest of Japan.
Traditionally Zenzai is served hot, and is enjoyed across Japan as a winter warmer. In Okinawa, it’s a different story. The soup is chilled, and a large helping of shaved ice is heaped on top, transforming it into a dessert! Served with a generous slug of matcha syrup completes your treat.
As off putting as it may sound, it actually has a sweet taste. The matcha, mochi, and bean combo is already popular amongst locals, and it’s easy to see why. The flavours play off one another, complimenting rather than contrasting, with the ice adding that refreshing element that’s essential on a hot summer day.
Where to get it.
Nakamurake Old House! This may seem like an unlikely spot, given that this is a historical site, but their gift shop has a small cafe, and they serve zenzai! Stop by after a walk around (entrance fee applies, 500 yen for adults), enjoy complimentary tea and brown sugar jelly, and then order a generous serving of zenzai to cool off. The portion is huge, so makes a great sharing option with friends (or to yourself, no judgement here). At 324 yen, it’s a good price too. Find it here: https://goo.gl/maps/nVt8pT1G4gE2