It’s good lick!
An ice-cream shop whose fish-shaped cones are a social-media sensation recently opened in Williamsburg, making it even easier for locals to pick up the mouth-watering — and eye-catching — dessert inspired by a symbol of good luck in Japan.
A founder of creamery Taiyaki NYC — whose name is a combination of the Japanese words “tai,” which translates to sea bream, a species considered the king of fish in the Asian country, and “yaki,” which translates to fried — said he fell in love with the symbolic sea creature on frequent trips to Japan, and decided to transform it into an edible waffle cone stuffed high with swirls of soft ice cream.
“I travel back to Asia quite often, and fell in love with the concept in Japanese culture,” said Jimmy Chen, who was born in New York City after his parents immigrated from Hong Kong. “We strive to create a great experience that’s aesthetically interesting.”
Chen and his five co-founders — who are all first- and second-generation Asian-Americans, whose families immigrated from countries including Japan, China, and Taiwan — opened their store’s first outpost in Manhattan in 2016, before expanding to a second location in faraway Florida the next year.
And last month, they opened their third location on Bedford Avenue between Grand and S. First streets, in what Chen described as a unique storefront in a trendy neighborhood that compliments his creamery’s trending creations, which have drawn more than 85,000 people to follow Taiyaki on Instagram — a formidable audience that keeps business booming, he said.
“I think we’re truly in the golden age of social media. Everyone is on their phones, everyone has to take a picture,” Chen said. “Williamsburg is bustling. I personally come here frequently for the hipster community, for Supreme, and Smorgasburg. There’s a tremendous amount of activity.”
Customers can order one of the fish cones filled with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, matcha, or black-sesame ice cream, or some combinations of those flavors, for $8 a pop, which includes a drizzle of syrups including caramel or chocolate and up to three free toppings such as crushed cookies, mochi balls, and sprinkles, with additional toppings costing 50 cents each.
For the same price, patrons can also choose from a number of “signature” cones that include a black sesame–matcha swirl option called “Straight Outta Japan” and the mythical “Unicorn” variety, which features a rainbow-sprinkles covered vanilla-strawberry swirl topped with gummy ears and a horn.
Horned-horse fans can also splurge on a “Unicorn Float,” a $10 milk-shake topped with whipped cream and sprinkles that comes with a small inner tube shaped like the magical beast, and looks just as good in photos as its cone counterpart, according to Chen.
“Last year, it was our most-popular ice cream — we’re really staying on top of trends,” he said.
And the six owners have yet to dream up their next internet-breaking confection, but are hard at work experimenting on new frozen sensations, Chen assured.
“We’re definitely in the lab,” he said.
Try a fish cone yourself at Taiyaki NYC [294 Bedford Ave. between Grand and S. First streets in Williamsburg, (917) 909–1856, www.taiyakinyc.com]. Mon–Thurs 1 to 10 pm, Fri 1 to 11 pm, Sat noon to 11 pm, Sun noon to 10 pm.