Just when you thought milkshakes were a way to treat yourself to pure indulgence, leave it to the Japanese to make them a little healthier and slightly more weird. Zunda Saryo, which has recently opened its first U.S. branch at Ala Moana's Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, makes their products using soybeans.

"Zunda" refers to the paste-like mixture of ground edamame, or immature soybeans, that the shop uses in its products. It is a regional specialty in the city of Sendai, Japan, and Zunda Saryo is a trendy chain there because of its mastery of zunda confections.

When I first heard of their store, I was instantly intrigued by the idea of soybeans as dessert. I mean, soybeans are supposed to be eaten as appetizers or mixed into rice, right? I couldn't pass up trying such a unique-sounding concept. I was also pleased to hear from their employees that the shakes have lots of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B1 because of their use of the beans. At the end of the day, it's still a shake, but at least it's a shake with nutritious content.

The stores in Japan have a wider selection of items, (like zunda roll cakes, omg) but for now, I'll be talking about the Shirokiya branch's three main products: the Zunda Shake Excella, Zunda Kakigori (Japanese-style shave ice), and Zunda Mochi Petit.  

Zunda Shake Excella

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Perhaps Zunda Saryo's most famous item. I went into this not knowing what to expect at all. Would it be really green-tasting? Would it be savory, like the soybeans I'm used to eating with dinner? As it turns out, it's not unlike your typical shake. 

I thought it was a little less thick than a normal milkshake and had a very smooth quality to it. There are tiny chunks of soybean in the shake for texture, kind of like the chocolate chip pieces you would find in a frappuccino. I also love the flavor that's added from zunda drizzle on top the whip cream.

For something so foreign-sounding, the Zunda Shake Excella tastes surprisingly familiar, like a fluffier, lightly-sweet, soybean-flavored version of a vanilla milkshake.

Zunda Kakigori (Japanese-Style Shave Ice)

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If we're being completely honest, I'd actually recommend this over the shake. The Zunda Kakigori is fluffy shave ice, a scoop of ice cream, and two balls of mochi (rice cake) topped with puréed zunda.

If you're intimidated by the prospect of having blended beans over your shave ice instead of a fruit syrup, don't be. It's refreshing and not too sweet; plus, the thickness of the zunda and lightness of the ice go amazingly well together. For the novelty of it, Hawai'i locals: add this to your bucket list of shave ice places to try. 

Zunda Mochi Petit

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You guessed it—the star ingredient is, once again, zunda. This time, it's in a coarser form than it is in the Zunda Shake or Kakigori. A ball of mochi is enveloped in the mashed-up zunda, and the outcome is kind of indescribable.

If you've tried red bean paste before, I'd say it's comparable to the mashed zunda. If not: imagine you boiled a bunch of peanuts to make them soft, and ground them all up into a chunky paste. Except it tastes like soybeans instead of peanuts. I love the way the flavor and texture of the zunda complement the mochi.

Yes, the soybean-averse might want to stay far, far, away from Zunda Saryo. But for the rest of you, I'd say it's definitely worth venturing into the craziness that is the new Shirokiya to participate in this trending and unique food experience.