Hokkaido, can be a very cold place, very cold! With temperature averages around -5 degrees on a good winter day, it’s a place perfect for making ice cream. But, would people be willing to eat it whilst bracing themselves when a sharp winter breeze passes right through you?? Not quite. Being outside with ice cream during winter or any food in general is rare to see. But when inside the maze of the underground system of Sapporo, or in one of the many buildings, people are toasty warm and many are looking for their ice cream fix! Not only is ice cream eaten in Sapporo, but it’s become a part of the regular diet, regardless of the outside temperature. In the warmth of underground malls, department stores and cafe’s, people line up to get their ice cream. So what’s so special about ice cream anyway? The secret to the answer lies in the milk made to create the ice cream. Hokkaido is the Mecca of milk production in Japan, Tokachi is the area of Hokkaido where most of that magic happens and Sapporo is where it’s enjoyed by everyone, young and old.
Good quality milk is, of course, important. But what catches the eye and draws people in is the way in which these ingredients are put together and presented. There are many places where people get very creative with ice cream, using flavours that you would never of dreamed of and put together with anything from Anko (sweet adzuki bean paste) and mochi (rice cake) to corn flakes and matcha (green tea) biscuits.
All this is great, but where do you go to take your ice cream experience to the next level? If you want to experience the world of varieties in one place, I recommend Milk Mura as the place to go.
Somewhere almost hidden and tucked away in a building that stands in the heart of the Sapporo city, on the cusp of the Susukino entertainment district, is a place that feels like stumbling across a secret, magical hideaway. The first time I attempted a visit was around 10.30pm, a time which I thought most people wouldn’t consider getting stuck into a plethora of ice cream. But how wrong I was. It was full, with people waiting outside! The staff member used good English to explain that it would be about a 30-40 minute wait!
Now unlike many people in Hokkaido who will stick it out until the end, my wife and I decided to call it a night right there and return at a different time.
On our ‘revenge’ return, the place was quieter because we went earlier in the evening, but soon after we had arrived, people were coming through quite steadily until it became quite busy once again. But aside from the small distraction of people pouring through the doors, your eyes will quickly scatter around what is a kaleidoscope of random paraphernalia mixed in with an incredible array of alcohol bottles. this brings me to a key element of the Milk Mura experience, alcohol.
In simpler times, when I was a nice young boy, I thought ice cream could only have 3 flavours, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Everyone around had their favourite, I thought nothing more could be possible. But now, flavours you may think could never find there way into ice cream have emerged, changing the world of ice cream forever. Over time, a place like Milk Mura has emerged, transforming the world of flavours, making anything possible!
I am but a small voice in a large world of tastes and that is what makes Milk Mura a place that's easy to stay in for hours. Milk Mura caters for a world of tastes and you can share your unique flavour combinations with your friends and family. If cognac doesn’t do it for you, try a whisky, a champagne, a rum… the list goes on but doesn’t end with alcohol. You can try a whole world of flavours from fruits to sprinkles of ground coffee. It never ends!
The other added bonus to all this is that if there is an alcohol that you always wanted to try but was too expensive to buy, here you can sample it for a very reasonable price and get ice cream with it too!!!
Speaking of price, it is very worth the experience you will have in return. The options available all come in at ¥1,390 yen and if you want to take away ice cream with you, that will be a different price, but I recommend staying at the bar and enjoying the whole experience.
At the bar, the staff will explain how the set up works very patiently. To give you an idea of what to expect, a very healthy serving of Hokkaido’s finest soft ice cream will be served in a cup. This would be very welcome on its own, but then Milk Mura shows its ways. You look through a menu book filled with over 100 varieties of flavours, including many non-alcoholic ones for those driving or averse to the liquor. Your fee will cover three samples along with your ice cream. I do recommend going with at least one other person so you can try more flavours. But failing that, you can just buy as many as you want. The staff will also recommend a special way for you to add the samples to your ice cream and experience the explosion of flavour with the smooth soft textured deliciousness of ice cream.
If you end up finishing your generous serving of ice cream, don’t worry, they will serve you a free refill!!!
Oh, and did I mention cookies? I can’t think why I would leave it until this long to mention it, but yes, there are cookies which are freshly baked available too!
There are also options that are suited for children which avoids having to give them alcohol prematurely and the opening times start at 1.00pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, making it family friendly. It does open at the later time of 5.00pm on Wednesdays and is closed on Mondays. The closing time is 12.00pm with the last orders at 11.00pm, so it’s available to stop by and have a try late into the evening, but be warned, it may be busy late at night.
Overall, if you like ice cream and want to expand your tasting experiences in a relaxed and friendly environment with enough options to keep you going for the rest of your life, visit Milk Mura and tell your friends about all the wonderful flavours you tried with ice cream!