This dessert originated in Kyoto but you can find it anywhere in Japan now. The dish consists of transparent gelatinous noodles that are extremely refreshing to eat, which is why it’s very popular in summer.
There are two simple ingredients in it: water and kuzu starch, which acts as a thickener. The starch is extracted from arrowroots, the root of the kuzu vine, which has been used in Japanese herbal medicine for almost 2,000 years, thanks to its ability to help with digestive issues.
Kuzu starch is used in various desserts. In summer, kuzukiri or kuzu mochi is enjoyed; when the weather gets colder, kuzu powder is dissolved in warm water and used as a remedy for coughs and colds.
The noodles don’t taste of much, so the dessert is served with black sugar syrup, known as kuromitsu. The syrup is most commonly poured over the noodles, but some people serve them separately, making it slightly more fun to eat, as diners dip chopsticks full of noodles into the syrup.
The smooth texture of the noodles makes it very easy to swallow, plus it’s served chilled and isn’t overly sweet—even with the syrup—so it can be consumed often on hot days. The dish has moved with the times too and is sometimes served with other toppings, such as fruit or matcha.