Location: 550 Highway 7, Richmond Hill
Sometimes, Asian desserts can be a bit of an acquired taste. With their emphasis on ingredients you don’t necessarily associate with sweets (like beans or tofu), unusual spices, and a very restrained level of sweetness, they can seem a bit odd if you’re not used to them.
If you are used to them, however? They’re delicious.
Sweet Turtle Desserts in the Times Square plaza in Richmond Hill is an absolute cornucopia of various Chinese puddings and sweet drinks (there are easily over a hundred items on the menu). I ordered the soya bean jelly with sesame, which is a creamy tofu-based pudding topped with a black sesame sauce.
The tofu itself is completely unsweetened, with a luxuriously silky texture but very little flavour. It doesn’t seem like much, but that silkiness is surprisingly addictive.
The black sesame topping suits it very well, with a nice hit of sesame and just enough sweetness to keep things interesting. It’s quite good.
Location: 760 Queen Street West, Toronto
Taiyaki — a fish-shaped, waffle-like dessert that’s traditionally filled with tasty custard or red bean — is great. What’s not to like? It’s delicious.
But I was a little bit concerned that the taiyaki cones they’re serving at Sukoi Desserts might be one of those looks-first, taste-second Instagram-bait creations that have been popping up all over the city. The fact that I overheard the owners discussing the cost of bringing “influencers” to the shop certainly didn’t instill confidence.
You can customize your cone in a few different ways — the ice cream (they had black sesame and vanilla when I went), the filling (red bean, custard, or Nutella), and the topping (chocolate cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, or sprinkles).
I got a black sesame / vanilla twist, a topping of cookie crumbs, and a filling of red bean.
It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but I wouldn’t call it empty Instagram bait, either. The ice cream was fine — it had a pronounced sesame flavour and an enjoyably subtle sweetness. It was a little grainy and not particularly creamy, but it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed it.
The taiyaki was easily the highlight. It was warm and fresh, with a pronounced crispiness on its exterior and a perfect amount of substance on its interior. The generous amount of tasty red bean filling complimented it perfectly.
Overall it’s a tasty enough dessert, but the middling ice cream mostly just gets in the way of the delicious taiyaki, so… I guess it kinda is Instagram bait. Oh well.
Location: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Sasaki Fine Pastry is the latest gem I’ve discovered thanks to the inimitable Suresh Doss, who specializes in sussing out the best non-Western eats in the city, usually out in the ‘burbs. If you’re on Twitter and you’re not following him, I don’t even know what you’re doing with your life.
Sasaki specializes in daifuku, a Japanese dessert in which soft, chewy mochi is stuffed with various sweet fillings. On this particular visit they had seven flavours available; I tried mango cream, strawberry cream, yuzu cream, and sesame cream.
It’s easily the best mochi I’ve ever had. I like mochi, but it can sometimes be a little too gummy. But the version here had a delightfully delicate chew that almost melts in your mouth.
The subtly sweet, creamy fillings were all great, though the strawberry — which featured a mixture of strawberry cream and sweet red bean filling — was the highlight.
I also tried the red bean and cream doriyaki, which features a filling of sweet red bean and whipped cream that’s sandwiched between two little pancakes. Like the daifuki, this was super fresh, subtly sweet, and extremely delicious.