TOKYO (Reuters) - Soy sauce isn't just for sushi anymore. At least, that's the thinking of one Japanese confectionary company that has invented the cream puff stuffed with soy sauce flavored ice cream.
Not only that, it's for a good cause -- helping to revitalize a city in northeastern Japan that was virtually wiped out by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.
"It's a mixture of soy sauce and ice cream, producing a well-balanced salty, yet sweet, ice cream which is perfect for the summer," said Kunihiko Shirokawa at Tokyo-based confectioner Hirota, one of the developers.
"We are planning another product for the autumn."
Hirota teamed up with Yamani Soy Sauce Co in Rikuzentakata, a city flattened by the massive waves, for a new twist on a flavor that has been around in Japan for some time.
Although it looks like typical vanilla, the ice cream has a distinctly salty and vaguely nutty flavor.
The collaboration was arranged by Seki Kinya, the head of Big Apple, an entrepreneurial consulting firm in Tokyo, who was inspired to do something to help after spending time cleaning up Rikuzentakata as a volunteer.
"I was in Takata during the clean-up efforts, and happened to meet an associate of Yamani," said Kinya. "Afterwards, the mayor talked about his hopes of revitalizing local businesses and creating job opportunities. It was all a coincidence, really."
The cream puffs cost 150 yen ($1.92)each, while the ice cream goes for 250 yen. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to non-profit organizations for aid efforts in Rikuzentakata. ($1 = 78.2400 Japanese yen)
Reporting by Teppei Kasai; Editing by Elaine Lies and Jeremy Laurence