I’m not the only ones obsessed with Asian sweets. Just a few weeks ago — while we were scouting out the top pastry candidates– New York Magazine outlined their own guide to Asian candy. But having spent some time in Japan, I’ve discovered the fresh-baked pastries here are every bit as good. You just have to know where to find them…
224 E 59th Street, btwn. 3rd and 2nd Avenue
This small Japanese market also stocks a selection of sweets “shipped straight from Japan.” Sure, it’s a a somber-looking dessert, but the Ebisusama (pictured right) is delicious. Filled with a dense black sesame paste, this manju pastry (think mochi in texture) resembles the Japanese God of Good Fortune.
10 Stuyvesant St, btwn. 11th and 12th Street
Italian and Japanese have crossed paths before, but this bakery takes this fusion to another level. Think tiramisu layered with green tea-infused cream, then topped with red beans and green tea jelly. The strong tea flavor is a delicious departure from the traditional coffee taste. While you are there, be sure to try their vast selection of “pan” (bread,) filled with everything from azuki beans to cream.
705 9th Avenue, btwn. 48th and 49th Sts.
hip dessert bar mines traditional Japanese flavors
to create wonderfully avant-garde desserts. Their blackberry animitsu is a
delicious summer indulgence. Just like a parfait, tofu mochi, kanten jelly,
tofu ice cream and green tea-glazed cookies are all layered and topped with
fresh fruit. We’re partial to the warm miso chocolate cake with green
tea anko cream. It’s moist, rich, and worth every calorie.
740 Broadway, btwn. Astor Pl. and Waverly Pl.
Skip the cream puffs and frozen yogurt and go directly to the crepe station. At Beard Papa, you can have your pick of fruit and decadent fillings. So forgo the usual Nutella and banana. We love our crepe stuffed with pastry cream and mini-mochi. A dollop of azuki paste adds an earthy flavor, while a drizzle of sweet honey brings it all together. Think exotic parfait!
Flushing Mall Crepe Stand
13-331 39th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11354
If there’s one reason to head to Flushing Mall, it’s the food court. Located at the far left among a sea of amazing Chinese and Taiwanese offerings lies a Japanese gem. To the eye, you would never know the tayaki (pictured right) doubles as the perfect comfort dessert. Shaped like a fish, this warm manju pastry has a similar texture to a thick pancake. The inside comes stuffed with thick custard cream, smooth taro, or dense red beans. At two for $1.50, try them all!
Double Tree Metropolitan Hotel
569 Lexington Ave.
cookies, cupcakes, to tea-infused chocolates, this tiny shop packs in
the desserts. Try dunking one of their delectable Japanese sweets into
a Matcha float. Not to mention, the cheesecake sticks — light,
fluffy, and simply superb. You can pick from 5 delicious flavors, but
we can’t get enough of the houjicha-flavored variety.
250 East 9th Street
dinner and go straight to the desserts at this tranquil Japanese
teahouse. Our house favorite is the zenzai—a lightly sweetened red
bean soup with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Top it off with mochi,
chestnuts, or black sesame tuile and you have quite the exotic
treat. ooh, and the green tea truffles are a creamy must.
18 East 41st Street
Looking for authentic Japanese takeout with a sweet ending? Look no further. With an assortment of scrumptious pastries, Café Zaiya leads the pack. Their mini chestnut and white bean an pan buns have a perfectly crisp manju crust, all served four in a pack. And don’t miss out on the classic black sesame soft serve. Creamy and exotic, it’s like no other frozen dessert we’ve ever tasted! Really.
35 St. Mark’s Place, btwn. 2nd and 3rd Aves.
Don’t let the street-level Italian restaurant deceive you. You’re in the right place. Just down the stairs lies a market brimming with Japanese sweets. The store is stocked with every unusual dessert imagineable, so you’ll find what you’re craving. Start with the autumnal favorite ohagi—a bite-sized sticky rice ball covered with azuki paste. Another favorite is the dango. Coated in soybean powder, black sesame, or red bean paste, these sweet and chewy treats are a mochi lover’s dream.
608 5th Avenue
Confused if this Japanese store is a jewelry shop or a confectionary? It’s both. You can’t go wrong with any one of their sweet gems. Sample any of the wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionary,) which have a texture and taste unfamiliar to the Western palate. But one year-round staple always on the shelves is the classic dorayaki (“Tsuya”) — a sweet red bean filling sandwiched between two fluffy cakes.