The first thing you see when approaching Grom is the metres-long line snaking out of the store. Osakans have well and truly cottoned on to the delights of this gelateria, originally from Italy and now with stores globally, and with good reason. This is game-changing gelato. With impeccable standards – only seasonal fruit, no added colours, flavours or preservatives, and all ingredients, even the milk, being imported from Italy – Grom is producing gelato of astonishing quality. (Try the crema di grom, chunks of biscuit and choc chip bound in a delicious vanilla cream, to see what we mean.) And with strict adherence to Italian spelling on menus, plus classic Italian flavors like fiordilatte that are scooped out of deep tubs topped with cute silver lids, you’ll feel like you’re a world away from the shopping malls of Umeda.
• Address: basement level (BF1) of Lucua Mall, Umeda
• Price: small ¥490, medium ¥590, large ¥690
• Number of flavours: 18 plus one flavour of the month
• Go-to flavour: crema di grom or lampone (raspberry)
• Web: grom.it/eng
Bar & Gelateria Raffinato
It may feel like a nightclub, but this slick, marble-and-gold decorated shop in the new Grand Front mall is all about coffee and gelato. Over 20 flavours – ranging from grapefruit and blood orange, to gianduja and cassata – are served by staff dressed smartly in waistcoats and ties. Enjoy your gelato as is, or as a refreshing cocktail topped with spumante, in the outside seating area, then glide seamlessly into the jaw-dropping Panasonic lifestyle store just next door.
• Address: basement level (Umekita Hiroba BF1) of Grand Front, Umeda • Price: 2 flavours ¥450, 3 flavours ¥550
• Number of flavours: 20
• Go-to flavour: pistachio, grape, buntan (pomelo)
• Web: raffinato-ashiya.com/bg/umeda
Tucked into a small alleyway opposite Namba Parks, this charming, pocketsized shop is a must for gelato-lovers seeking adventure. Using fresh fruit and, more unusually, vegetables, Ruggeri fearlessly experiments with flavours to produce combinations that are totally unique (and at times downright strange) in the gelato microcosm. Of course there are the classics, but it’s in Ruggeri’s highly seasonal offerings that things get exciting. Think tomato and lemon combo in summer, pumpkin or maple walnut for autumn, sangria in winter, and sakura for spring. And best of all, you can sit at one of the shop’s wooden benches, watching through a large window into the stainless steel kitchen as the owner hand-crafts each crazy combination.
• Address: Osaka, Naniwa-ku, Shikitsunishi 2-8-10
• Price: 1 flavour ¥280, 2 flavours ¥350, 3 flavours ¥450, 4 flavours ¥550 • Number of flavours: 13
• Go-to flavour: pistachio (plus ¥100), white peach (plus ¥50)
• Web: ruggeri.jp
The impassioned tones of the opera greet you as you enter Caffellatte. Italian owner Eddi Tormena and his wife run this gelateria, now in its seventh year, with an unashamed and unadulterated Italian fervour (look for the Vespa). “My recipes and methods are straight from Venice and I don’t change them for local tastes,” Eddi declares. “I make it every second day. We don’t keep it any longer.” His puritan stance may be a little stubborn, but the results are impressive: the flavours and textures are, as the Italians would say, delizioso.
• Address: 615-0061, Kyoto, Ukyo-ku, 70-1 Inui-cho Saiin, 1F Gemini building
• Price: single ¥320, double ¥480
• Number of flavours: 10 to 16
• Go-to flavour: pistachio, made with Italian nuts
• Web: caffe-llatte.com
Located in the heart of Arashiyama, Shinpachi has a view any tourist would appreciate, just metres from Katsura River, the Togetsukyo bridge, and the famous mountains. The shop is nearly part of the scenery: it has served gelato since 1986, picking up a couple of awards along the way. The gelato is excellent and its wide range of flavours – such as sakura mochi and Arashiyama tofu – will please those after something a little different. A savouring and suitable companion to the visual pleasantries on offer.
• Address: 616-8384, Kyoto, Ukyo-ku, 37-17 Sagatenryujitsukurimichi-cho
• Price: single ¥330-500 (depending on flavour), double ¥400
• Number of flavours: 16
• Go-to flavour: sakura mochi
• Web: sinpachi.com
Tucked behind a comedy theatre, Gion Gelato is, as its name suggests, a gelataria in Gion. Its walls are plastered with autographs from celebrities who undoubtedly enjoyed the sweet desserts on offer. The range of flavours is a little less than the norm, with Kyoto soybean and black syrup being the standouts.
• Address: 605-0073, Kyoto, Higashiyamaku, Gionmachi Kitagawa, Gion Centre, 1F, north side
• Price: small ¥300, medium ¥500
• Number of flavours: 14
• Go-to flavour: soybean, made from Kyoto soybeans
• Web: t-agent.co.jp/gion
Rome and Hakodate! They go together like… gelato and sunshine? Well, Milkissimo brags about the fact their head branch in Hokkaido is on the same latitude (41 degrees north) as the home of gelato. Whatever the blurb, the result: sweet Hokkaido milk mixed with some familiar Italian savoury flavours, such as tomato and basil. This 20-seater shop is dead easy to spot near the Gardens entrance, with its purple and pink decor and wavy mountains of gelato on display. Some flavours are also inside a revolving display case to make choosing a flavour all part of the adventure. Decide on a number of flavours instead of serving size, pay, then choose the flavours while a server makes you a mini gelato mountain in a cup. It’s only a small shop but no-one lingers too long in the seated area; the stuff is too yummy to delay.
• Address: 1F Nishinomiya Gardens
• Price: 1 flavour ¥380, 2 flavours ¥460, 3 flavours ¥540
• Number of flavours: Around 20 on display, change seasonally
• Go-to flavour: milk is the #1 best seller, but one of the summer seasonal flavours, Haskapp, was a blood-red coloured tarty treat that went great with it.
• Web: milkissimo.com