Everyone loves ice cream cones. Not only are they the environmentally conscious alternative to cups and bowls, but they’re crunchy and mighty fun to eat! Available as basic sugar cones, in fancier waffle-styles, and even pretzel-form or chocolate-coated, we have countless choices. Today, we’ve decided to focus on the playful Taiyaki cones, straight out of Japan!
While the Taiyaki cones did make a splash in North America during 2016, the truth is they had been swimming around the Japanese dessert scene long before they hit social media streams. “Tai”, meaning sea bream, is iconic in Japan. Being a symbol of celebration and luck, pictures of the prized fish can be found above doorways everywhere. The Japanese will often offer sweet tai-shaped candies as thank you gifts at special occasions.
Moving to the second half of the name, “yaki,” we learn that it translates to fried, baked, or grilled and so combined, we’re left with “Taiyaki”. It was said to have been created in a Tokyo cafe, Naninwaya Sohonten, in 1909. In South Korea, there is bungeo-ppang, which was introduced almost 20 years later and is a compound of “carp (bungeo)” and “bread (ppang)”. Like the Japanese counterpart, it is customizable with red bean paste, custard, chocolate, and even sweet potato fillings. These act as a barrier preventing ice cream from pooling in the cone’s tail and leaking onto your hand. It’s important to note that while it’s not only functional, it’s also incredibly chewy and delicious!
Typical ice cream flavours for the Taiyaki cones include matcha and black sesame, often swirled together in a serpentine dance; but you can get flavours like vanilla and chocolate. While they can prove difficult to come across, Cafe Taiyaki 52 in Halifax offers visitors matcha and mango in their Jaw Dropper. Filling choices go beyond that of red bean paste, vanilla custard, and chocolate, too. Here you’ll also find matcha custard, blueberry cream cheese, and even caramelized pineapple!
For Canadians unable to visit Nova Scotia for matcha-mango Jaw Droppers, there’s another option. A dessert knight in shining armour comes in the form of the Korean bingsoo chain, Snowy Village. In addition to their silky, snowy bingsoos, they offer a croissant Taiyaki made from rich waffle batter served warm and filled with a variety of options. These include red bean, custard, sweet potato, and injeolmi. That last one is a popular Korean rice cake with a delicate and sweet roasted taste.
If you’re unable to find your own Taiyaki cones or Bungeoppang to add ice cream to, no worries! There’s always the classic crunchy waffle ice cream cones from your local gelato or ice cream shop… But will you dare add something to the middle, Taiyaki-style, to help you catch the ice cream?