Review: Taiyaki's Fish-Shaped Ice Cream Cones

“Fish cone or cup?” asks the guy at the counter to the eager 10-year-old placing an order. Is that even a question? I wonder. 

Photo by Priya Krishna

I am at Taiyaki, home of the legendary fish-shaped ice cream cones that have been filling up your Instagram feeds over the past few months. The dessert has long been quite popular in Japan—invented in 1909 by a Tokyo café called Naninwaya Souhonten—but only recently arrived in the United States, once it was determined that fish-shaped cones topped with whimsical swirls of ice cream photograph extremely well. As it turns out, though, taiyaki is more than just a pretty face. You can customize your order—I got one with a matcha and black sesame ice cream swirl (there are more plain flavors, too, like vanilla or chocolate), red bean filling, a wafer swizzle and mochi, to finish. To my surprise, every component was really well executed: the ice cream's velvety texture could rival Dairy Queen soft serve (though I do wish the black sesame and matcha essence had been slightly punched up), the cone had the hot, sweet breadiness of a freshly made pancake (the restaurant presses each cone to order in a special griddle), and the cone's red bean filling—although hard to find at first—was as chewy and luscious as you might expect in any great Japanese pastry. Plus: you can tell that the extra elements, like the mochi, are handmade, and in this case, decisively better than the shriveled, dry kind you might find at Pinkberry. Other toppings include crushed Oreos, matcha powder, graham cracker crumbles, and strawberry syrup—anything and everything that will look great on the ’gram. I can’t hate on Taiyaki’s approach, though, because at the end of the day, it’s still a really, really luxuriously delicious cup of soft serve. 

119 Baxter St.; 212-966-2882

Steven Wongprimary