Umami Ice Cream Cool Treat to Eat in Summertime Japan

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The “fifth flavor” of umami has been enjoyed among epicureans in Japan and beyond since Dr. Kikuane Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University identified glutamate as the key ingredient in Kombu kelp more than a century ago. Now, just in time to refreshingly indulge in during the hot summer season, Futuba Co. is dishing out seaweed-infused, umami-rich ice cream.


The Sanjo City, Niigata-based soup stock and seasoning specialist is offering the On the Umami soft-serve product at a dedicated store in its hometown. Priced at ¥450 (approximately $4), it comes complete with a topping of puree of tomato and fish-based dashi, or a sauce featuring grapes and balsamic vinegar. Both combinations impart sweet and savory flavor to tickle one’s taste buds.

“Futaba focuses mostly on industrial products but has been working to make inroads into the retail market in recent years,” reported the Nikkei Asian Review on June 28. “The soft serve ice cream is part of its strategy to gain more traction among consumers.”

In business since 1953, the company employs 130 people and has registered capital of ¥98,000,000. Another product recently debuted in its On the Umami range is a cold soup stock featuring koshihikari rice, sardines, dried bonito and kelp. Consumers are encouraged to add their own favorite ingredients such as tofu, cucumber, shiso leaves and myoga ginger.