Konnichiwa, mata watashi desu, your favorite kitty cat! Hee...
Although my articles are constantly about Asia, I grew up here in the States where there are numerous places to experience all cultures! Yes, I am proud to be an American! USA! USA! Well here in this very part of the world, there are also some gems that serve great Asian desserts...some with a strong touch of American flair as well! If you're ever in any of these cities during vacation, be sure to check out the following...
Located: Los Angeles, California
Genre: Japanese Crepes
Beverly Hills, Japan and crepes, put them together and what do you get? My favorite place in LA! Harajuku Crepe is right next to the famous Vidal Sassoon salon in Beverly Hills where they serve the trendiest Japanese-style crepes to celebrities and regular folk alike! What makes Japanese crepes different than regular crepes? Glad you asked! First, the overall crepe is much lighter even though their sizes are bigger and there is more filling! We also roll them up and eat them by hand like an ice-cream cone. Of course, there is also the flavor variations which feature Japanese choices such as green tea ice-cream and azuki red beans, topped with healthy fresh fruit, and mostly left raw! Since this is about desserts, we'll focus mostly on their sweet crepes, but they also feature non-sweet crepes as well! Plus, there's the bonus of potentially seeing a celebrity sighting since it's in Beverly Hills! ^_^
Located: San Francisco, California
If you've been reading these columns, you're ultra familiar with what are mochi (a.k.a. daifukus). They are glutinous rice pastes with various fillings inside! Simply Mochi in San Francisco is an independently-owned store whose owner, Linda, has offered hand-made mochis ranging from dozens upon dozens of creative flavors...most of them embedded with an American pop culture flair. Ever had Oreo mochi? What about pumpkin cheesecake mochi? This cute little store, with its colorful mochi decorated everywhere, is as cute as a button! They are also very active in San Francisco's foodie and Asian-American community!
Located: New York City, New York
This 5th Avenue gem is my drug of choice! Whenever I'm around this part of town (which is often), I stop by and delight myself in their wagashis. These works of art, are so beautiful to look at your sense of sight will do everything possible to stop your sense of taste from devouring them! Of course, if you're like me and the hundreds of thousands of other people who frequent Minamoto Kitchoan, the taste buds will win everytime! Minamoto Kitchoan is a very classy cafe, so expect high quality and top-notch service, if it's your first time, you...will...be...FLOORED! :)
The Shaved Ice Shop
Located: New York City, New York
Genre: Shaved Ice
The Shaved Ice Shop is no ordinary shaved ice store. Part of their allure is the atmosphere that captures the open-night feel of Taipei! Just like the others mentioned, The Shaved Ice Shop features a mixture of the traditional Asian with an American flair. Ordinary shaved ice stores just give you vanilla ice cream, fruit and shaved iced. The Shaved Ice Shop offers a variety of Asian-themed ice cream flavors and a unique lineup of toppings. You could say they are the Pinkberry of shaved ice cafes!
Located: Houston, Texas
Genre: Euroasian Bakery
If you think Houston is just all about oil, pick-up trucks, the rodeo and space rockets, you're going to be surprised that Houston's Chinatown is really picking up! It's resembling more and more like my hometown of LA with places like Jungle Cafe! Jungle Cafe combines the artistry of the French with the tastes more suited towards the bakeries in Asia. The seating is so kawaii and modern! They also serve awesome bubble tea and gorgeous, custom-made birthday cakes!
The Sugar Philly Truck
Located: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genre: Fusion Desserts
Wait a minute, one of the best Asian dessert gems in America is a truck? Yep! This neat little on-the-go business was devised by aspiring young Asian-American entrepreneurs Daniel Tang, John Suh and Franklin Shen! They offer interesting assortments of French macarons, custards, rice puddings and other things that are, yet again, an interest mix of East meets West! Like a comet in the shape of a truck, catch it if you can whenever you're around the Philly area!!!
Cafe Du Monde
Located: New Orleans, Louisiana
Okay, I'm gonna cheat a little here and claim a French cafe for an Asian one. Why? Because so many Asians love beignets, we might as well adopt it as part of sour culture (work with me here)! Besides, Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter is one of the most famous must-go places that even if this is how you first find out about it, it's still with the info sharing, no? What's so great about their beignets? They are known here to be the best beignets in the world...the WORLD. Take that France! These doughy little funnel cakes are totally to die for! Hee!
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream
Located: Honolulu, Hawaii
Genre: Ice Cream
Many people mistaken the name as Bubbles, but it's Bubbies!!! ^_^ This cool little Hawaiian dessert shop features all sorts of ice cream goodness from regular ice cream to ice cream mochi and ice cream cakes! Not from Hawaii? No sweat! Just like White Castle, you can get their products at specific local grocers. But isn't the experience part of the fun? Their store is located at the beautiful Koko Marina Shopping Center. Just like Cafe Du Monde, I am pushing it a bit by saying it's an "Asian" dessert cafe where it's more Hawaiian/American than anything else. Still, the abundance of Asian-themed ice cream flavors and mochi are enough to deem this as an official recommendation for this article!
Located: Atlanta, Georgia
Genre: Tapioca Tea
SunO is a city-only franchise, with several locations only in the Atlanta area. It's signature desserts are their shaved ice and tapioca tea! This may not seem very special, but given the part of the country it's in, Suno is pretty much a class of its own in the deep South which partly why it made this list! The franchise itself is pretty popular and top-notch modern. It has a great local fan following especially because its "make your own" desserts are stacked with a wide variety of flavors!
Located: Seattle, Washington
Genre: Traditional Asian Bakery
My final selection goes to a nice little traditional bakery in Seattle called Fuji Bakery. For those who prefer the more light and traditional Asian dessert snacks with a touch of light European flair, Fuji Bakery serves terrific Japanese buns that have touches of zaccy, azuki or curry! Their European-style breads are Asian interpreted, meaning they are inspired by the styles of France, but cooked with an Asian intepretation! Fuji Bakery was also voted as Seattle's best bakery in 2011! Their head artisan, Taka Hirai, is regarded as one of the best Japanese bakers in the world!
Phew! I'm exhausted! I feel like I just went around the country and back! Remember, just because you're at this part of the globe doesn't mean you can't resolve your fix for Asian desserts! Whether it's those I mentioned above or any of the hundreds located at a neighborhood near you, you can always find time to enjoy a delicious mochi, tapioca, sweet bun or some marvelous shaved ice!
Be sure to check back in 15 days as we explore more topics on Asian desserts! Until then, sonja tanoshinde kite!!!!!!! ^_^