So, zunda is for sure one of those things that will divide people. Made from edamame (young soybeans), some people love its slightly sweet taste, similar to anko (a paste made from sweetened adzuki beans), and its chunky texture. Others are put off by the vivid green color and the unrefined, gloopy look. But regardless of your first visual impression, it must be tried at least once while in Sendai! And the standard form of consumption is zunda mochi, which features zunda atop a soft mochi rice cake—one of the two most famous souvenirs from Miyagi Prefecture.
In order to sample this popular dish, we got a "Zunda Mochi Petite" at Zunda Saryo, a specialist zunda shop. These do not fare well outside of a refrigerator, so make sure you keep them cold! A little different from the typical zunda mochi, here the mochi rice cakes were hidden in small cups full of lumpy soybeans—but I was able to scoop one out without too much trouble.
As for the taste, I actually liked it more than I thought I would. The beans were just sweet enough to be palatable while still retaining a vegetable flavor. The rice cake balanced out the overall taste, and the serving size was just right, as it's quite easy to tire of the flavor after one or two bites.
If the idea of eating these electric green goodies is off-putting, there's also a zunda shake you can try. The shake has more of a smooth vanilla taste and consistency, so it's—pardon the pun—easier to swallow. You also have the options of zunda manju (steamed sweet buns), zunda roll cakes, zunda pudding and more!
Sendai seems to have a theme of promoting foods with strange textures. On the opposite end of the crunchy spectrum is shirako, an incredibly creamy dish that looks like brains, but, in reality, comes from the other end of the body. During my time in the region, I was offered this dish three times, and I made it a point to try it thrice because the methods of preparation were slightly different each time. One version was served raw, another was fried like a gooey fritter, and the final was coated in soy sauce. It's served in all kinds of restaurants, even the traditional Japanese inn where we stayed (which you can read about here).
I can say I understand why some people dig it, but it truly disagreed with my mouth—especially since I know that shirako is the soft roe, or milt, of the male cod. And while caviar, or the eggs of female fish, is popular around the world, I don't think milt, or the sperm sacs of male fish, will ever command such a large following. But if you're an adventurous eater, and I try to be, the taste and the texture are to be experienced while visiting Sendai.