I think it’s been over four years since I’ve been to an aquarium, so I was particularly excited to visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest public aquariums in the world, with a friend today. From the outside the place looked normal, but the inside was anything but. It was enormous! Not only were there several floors of exhibits, but some of the grander exhibits probably held hundreds of animals and thousands of gallons of water. From penguins to jellyfish to sea lions, this place has plenty to see.
We entered the aquarium at around 5pm, so unfortunately we missed the opportunity to see any of the animals getting fed (usually around 4pm). That said, it wasn’t long before I began feeling it was my turn to get fed. I had eaten lunch around noon, so I was getting really hungry…
Within the cerulean, glowing maze of sea creatures, I chanced upon this neat sign advertising some ice cream in a tiny cafe hidden around the corner. The ice cream on the left, the Whale Shark Ice Cream, looked particularly interesting, so my stomach decided to give it a try. The phrase in the top-right corner says “海のブルー、雄大な王者のソフト,” which translates to “The ocean’s blue, ice cream of the grand king.” I know that phrase sounds odd linguistically, but it makes sense once you understand that the whale shark is considered the “king of fish” (it’s the largest living species of fish), and that just like the ice cream it too is blue. I imagined this grandiose projection serves to glorify the ice cream itself, so I wanted to be the judge to see if it lived up to its namesake.
The Whale Shark Ice Cream began making a memorable impression from the moment the cafe lady handed it to me. The deep blue and white swirls of the Ramune (Japanese soda) and vanilla flavors were neat to stare at, and the cute dashing of white sugar pellets accented the sweet nicely. Flowers aren’t a common sight at aquariums, but regardless I appreciated the unique flower-like shape of the cone.
Flavorwise, this ice cream matched its visuals in style and appeal. The tangy Ramune flavor of the blue ice cream was not as overbearingly sweet as one would expect from a normal soda, rather it tasted like a blue-raspberry, fruity gelato. When you add the humble vanilla to the mix, the result is very similar to a fruit cream. The tiny sugar pellets also added a sweet crunch texture to my first few licks, and I always love having a variety of textures in my food. Oh, and my favorite part of all – do you know why this dessert is called the Whale Shark Ice Cream? The blue and white color scheme with white polka dots resembles the skin of a whale shark! How cool is that?!
Moving on to the cone, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Even the best ice cream can be brought down by a subpar cone, but this cone did not disappoint. It wasn’t as crunchy as a sugar cone, but it wasn’t as dry as a cake cone. This cone was somewhere in-between; it was thin and flaky, but crispy and sweet. Overall, it was a solid cone. This was not a cone I would sullenly nibble after eating all the ice cream, but one that I appreciated all the way down. One interesting touch I only noticed at the very end was the rounded point at the very bottom of the cone.
The dreamy softness of the soft serve ice cream itself and the rounded, dainty structure of the cone complimented each other well, similar to how the two ice cream flavors more conspicuously complemented one another. My friend also had one of these ice creams, and he even agreed that it was delicious. The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is already a sight worth seeing in its own right, but if you get the opportunity to come, I’d say their iconic Whale Shark Ice Cream is also worth trying.