Aucklanders 'hooked' on fish-flavoured ice cream from Fugitoto

Fugitoto fish ice-cream
One scoop of the salmon flavour costs $12 at Fugitoto, and without the option to sample it first. Photo credit: Jordan Dunn / RNZ

By Jordan Dunn of RNZ

Well, it is oh-fish-ial - Auckland is hooked on a new flavour of ice cream combining the two foods you would least expect.

Just one week after opening, Fugitoto made a splash in Epsom when it introduced its king salmon ice cream flavour, and within a day, it was gone.

Two weeks later, the store had sold a full four-litre tub of it every single day.

They are selling so much, co-owner Jiani Yuchi said they were not letting customers sample it, claiming you could not get the proper flavour.

So if you want to try it, you had better be prepared to drop $12 for a scoop.

Yuchi said the flavour was popular across the board.

"Everyone, [if] it's a very interesting one, will buy it. Like Asians, Kiwis, but first they want to try," she said.

"But I say, 'If you just try a little, you can't know the flavour'."

She said the ice cream was made with real king salmon from the South Island, with fish bits visible in it.

"[We] just steam the salmon first. After, we put the milk and cream and sugar, [to] make the flavour balanced."

Yuchi said they had to make a new batch of the ice cream every day to keep up with demand because it kept selling out.

The ice cream was topped with a little bit of wasabi, to enhance the flavour, she said.

King salmon is just one of many interesting flavours at Fugitoto. Others include tofu, strawberry, taro and pumpkin.
King salmon is just one of many interesting flavours at Fugitoto. Others include tofu, strawberry, taro and pumpkin. Photo credit: Jordan Dunn / RNZ

Although samples were not allowed, manager Mushan Li said people should take the leap.

"It's like you're eating the real salmon. It's like a totally different experience."

She said the salmon had become more popular than any other flavours in the parlour, beating out melon, dragonfruit, black sesame, and pumpkin.

RNZ spoke with customers leaving the store, some of whom were hesitant to try it.

"I haven't given it a go, no," Joe said. "Maybe one day - I think it'll be good in a bagel."

"No, unfortunately, we would like to have tried that, but apparently that's a secret, you've got to buy it to try it," another said. "I was after a small sample rather than a big sample."

"I haven't tried it yet," Elspeth said. "That is on the 'to-try' list though, I'm going to build up to it."

Co-owner Jiali Li said they were trying to compete in the ice cream market, and what better way than to combine th dessert with something else New Zealanders love.

"The salmon is quite popular in New Zealand, it's real fresh, so I think that is the best way to make a brand for New Zealand".

Well, do the people love it? The customers RNZ spoke to were torn.

"It's fishy, it's interesting a little bit sweet, a little bit salty... and maybe a little bit like cat food. It kind of feels like cat food but in a good way."

"I thought it was balanced," another customer said, "it wasn't too sweet and I think it would work if it was maybe in a hors d'oeuvre."

"I'm not sure Kiwis are quite ready for it, they're only just getting used to things like black sesame and matcha," a third said.

The owners said more interesting flavours were on the way, such as salt and chilli melon, once the balance of the flavours was perfected.