Location: 333 Dundas Street East, Mississauga (inside PAT Supermarket)
Kevin’s Taiyaki is inside the PAT Supermarket in Mississauga, which is a pretty trippy place to visit. It’s basically like stepping through a portal into South Korea. When I went, every other person — both customer and employee — was Korean, and the only language I heard spoken was Korean. PAT has a downtown location as well, but I’ve never quite had the same experience there.
I have a definite fondness for South Korea (I think it’s an underrated travel destination), so that was delightful.
Like the downtown PAT, there’s a location of Kevin’s Taiyaki right inside the supermarket, which specializes in red bean or custard filled pastries.
I got the red bean, and it was very, very good. It was freshly made, with a nice crispy exterior, fluffy pastry (if you’ve never had taiyaki before, it’s extremely waffle-like), and a delicious red bean filling. The red bean had a restrained level of sweetness and a chunky (but still smooth) texture that was extremely satisfying.
Taiyaki is one of those dishes that’s very simple and rarely bad, but difficult to do really well. Kevin’s Taiyaki does it really well.
Location: 160 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Sukoshi Mart is a little Japanese convenience store in Kensington Market that sells hard-to-find Japanese goods. They also sell freshly-made taiyaki, a waffle-like dessert that’s traditionally filled with either red bean or custard.
I like this place. If you’re looking for Japanese snacks or candy, it’s worth a visit.
The taiyaki, on the other hand? Not so much.
It’s fine. It’s perfectly edible, but the exterior is dense and doughy, and the red bean is overly sweet. It’s also misshapen and haphazard, so it doesn’t even have the (usually) delightful visual component. It’s not the best.
Location: 13 Baldwin Street, Toronto
One of the things that takes some getting used to in Asia is that some countries there consider white bread to essentially be a dessert. More than once, I’ve gone to a convenience store and bought what appears to be a Twinkie-esque pastry, only to realize that it’s just a plain white bun, like a hot dog bun.
Which is to say that if you’ve never had the type of Japanese cream bun they serve at Hattendo, you might be surprised to discover that the bun itself is basically just a soft, fluffy hamburger bun. Once you get used to it, however, it’s quite tasty.
I tried three: custard, chocolate, and red bean. The bun itself is quite nice. It’s soft, fluffly, and just a little bit sweet.
The custard was my least favourite of the three flavours. It was nice and creamy, but the flavour was middling; there just wasn’t much to it.
The chocolate was much better, with a pronounced cocoa-infused flavour and a satisfyingly restrained level of sweetness.
The red bean was the best of the three. If you normally don’t like beany sweets, this might just be the perfect gateway dessert — it’s super creamy and tasty, with a really nice balance between the creamy custard and the sweet red beans.
Location: 3235 Highway 7, Markham
The Cups is a little dessert shop in the First Markham plaza that specializes in bingsu, a tasty Korean shaved ice dessert.
I generally liked shaved ice, though sometimes, it’s a bit watery. The Cups has a fairly ingenious solution for this issue: they use milk instead of water for their ice, which gives the dessert a much richer, creamier consistency.
I ordered the mango bingsu, which features mango chunks, cheesecake chunks, condensed milk, mango sauce, and whipped cream.
It’s quite good. The mango pieces are ripe and sweet, and the ice-to-stuff ratio is pretty much right on point. Plus, the aforementioned milk ice ensures that the whole thing has a satisfyingly creamy consistency.
On another visit, I tried the red bean, which features soybean powder, mochi cubes, almond flakes, red bean, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think I might have liked it even better than the mango, though the ice-to-stuff ratio was a bit off. It needed a bit more red bean (I don’t think there was any in the middle).
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.