If these fish aren’t flooding your feed yet, just you wait. Taiyaki NYC is a brand new dessert place that can be found in the heart of Chinatown, which is perfect for what it stands for. Not only is it aesthetically instagrammable, but it’s also delicious and means something way more. Taiyaki is a symbol that represents a taste of Asian culture (literally), the new age of entrepreneurs and millennials, and giving back to the community by working hard for the parents who gave them everything.
To most people, this new dessert is a cute fish shaped waffle cone eating soft serve ice cream. Which is totally true, but what everyone doesn’t know is the story behind Taiyaki.
What is the meaning behind Taiyaki NYC?
The most literal translation of taiyaki is “fried fish”. “Tai” is known as sea bream, which is a type of fish that is well known as the king among fish in Japan. “Yaki” translates to fried. During the Edo period (1600’s to 1800’s), Tai was presented to the Shogun (who ruled at the time) as it was considered a highly prized dish of seafood. Since then, Tai has been a critical part of Japanese food and culture. Tai-shaped pastries were given as a gift of thanks, representing celebration and luck. Pictures of Tai would also be hung at home entrances or shrines as a symbol.
Integrating this core piece of Japanese culture, Taiyaki NYC was born. They offer fried fish (not literally, guys) in the form of fish shaped waffle cones to serve ice cream of all sorts as a delectable dessert. So behind every Taiyaki is a message of celebratory thanks and luck.
So what sets this dessert apart from others?
While most asian dessert places include the typical matcha, black sesame, and red bean flavors, Taiyaki NYC takes this to a whole new level. Each fish is infused with your choice of red bean or custard filling. This incorporation is super unique and immerses you into Asian culture at a deeper level.
Each Taiyaki is valued at $7 where you can either make one of your own creation or choose one of the pre-set favorites. Favorites include the following:
- The Classic – vanilla ice cream, custard filling, strawberry, wafer, chocolate drizzle
- Matcha Better – matcha ice cream, red bean filling, matcha powder, strawberry drizzle
- Straight Outta Japan – matcha black sesame swirl, red bean filling, mochi, wafer
- It’s Choco-lit – chocolate ice cream, custard filling, chocolate powder, wafer, choco drizzle
- You’re Berry Lovely – vanilla ice cream, custard filling, strawberry, rainbow sprinkles, strawberry drizzle
If you wanna make your own, you have your choice of what type of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, vanilla-choc swirl, matcha, black sesame, matcha-sesame swirl), filling (red bean or custard), and two toppings!
If you’re only there for the fish, they got you covered at only $3! Only like ice cream? They got you for just $4.
What did you end up getting?
I had to get the Straight Outta Japan favorite! Not only in celebration of this Japanese inspired dessert place, but also because of my love for matcha and black sesame ice cream. Didn’t have to tell me twice!! I actually asked the staff what their personal favorites were. They mentioned Straight Outta Japan and You’re Berry Lovely so I already knew which one stole my heart… and stomach.
The taiyaki itself was amazing! I love when things are fresh out of the oven, so feeling the warmth emanate off the fish was awesome. The outside of the fish was crafted to crispy perfection. The ice cream itself was so refreshing! Soft serve is definitely one of my favorites. The wafer had a slight coffee taste which was perfect for me since I’m a coffee lover. I especially enjoyed the mochi because it was very fresh and soft. That was a huge plus in my book because some places have horrible, hard mochi.
Once I got through the ice cream, I finally reached the fish. The inside got a bit soggy due to the ice cream, but that was definitely expected. Eating the actual fish was awesome with the added touch of red bean filling. The surprise taste just tied everything together seamlessly.
Diving a little deeper: Getting the inside scoop
I had the opportunity to meet with some of the partners to discuss Taiyaki NYC in further detail. Pictured above, from left to right, are Tom Yang, Jimmy Chen, and Ricky Yang. The owners are a group of friends who share a passion for traveling to Asian countries (Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, etc) as well as share an Asian heritage. Within their travels, they came across many different types of dessert and decided that together they wanted to bring a piece of that Asian culture back to the states.
Once their dream finally became reality, Taiyaki NYC opened its doors on September 16, 2016. The response was crazy with two lines down two different blocks. “Opening was such an overwhelming and exciting experience,” Jimmy said. “We were able to bring Asian culture infused in dessert and live out our dream. We are all entrepreneurs at heart who enjoy traveling and eating dessert. All of us being on some sort of business track, we’re all very satisfied.”
Majority of the partners have full time jobs, aside from Taiyaki, so balancing both has been a challenge but one that is extremely worth it. “This is like our little baby,” Jimmy said. “Our first realistic capital venture that we put our time and money into.” Within the first few weeks of opening, Taiyaki NYC has received so much press. This place not only continues to hype great dessert, but also promotes Asian culture and millennial entrepreneurship. This venture is a symbol for all the individuals whose parents weren’t from America and how hard they worked to come here. This dessert stands for giving back to both them and the community as a whole, working hard for all the parents who gave their everything. Proof that their hard work wasn’t for nothing.
Taiyaki NYC aspires to continue to grow and improve their dessert. They have dreams of expanding across the United States and spreading a taste of Asian culture through their unique dessert.
I want to give a special thanks to Ricky, Tom, and Jimmy for having Yuena and I come to their store for an exclusive inside look of Taiyaki NYC. It was such a pleasure learning the story behind why they got started as well as seeing the process behind the scenes.
WAIT! There’s more!!
Being that this is my first ever food post on this blog, I’d like to also present something else I’ve been working on with Yuena: a video food review!