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: 128 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Taiyaki NYC is basically the same concept as Sukoi Desserts, in which a taiyaki (a Japanese waffle-like dessert in the shape of a fish) is filled with ice cream and other toppings.
It’s a dessert that’s tailor-made for Instagram; in fact, Taiyaki NYC even has a portion of their wall made entirely of flowers to make your photo really pop. I just wish they put in half as much effort to make the food pop.
It’s a dessert I should love. Ice cream is great. Taiyaki is great. Cramming those two things together should be a home run. And yet…
I went with the Mangonificient, which is supposedly one of their most popular flavours — it features a mango/vanilla swirl inside a custard taiyaki.
The ice cream is the biggest issue. It’s not good — it has a decent mango flavour, but it’s icy and thin. It’s topped with a cookie and a few tiny cubes of tasteless mochi on a stick. It looks impressive, but the taste is another story.
I will say, however, that the taiyaki itself is actually quite good. It’s nice and fresh, with a crispy exterior and a perfectly cakey/fluffy interior. They sell them on their own, which is clearly the thing to order. It probably won’t be much of a hit on social media, though, so what’s the point, right?
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: 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.