Taiyaki means “baked sea bream”. It is used to refer to a Japanese fish-shaped cake. A fluffy snack made using regular pancake or waffle batter. The batter is poured into a fish-shaped mould and a filling is added in, before it’s snapped shut. The most common filling is red bean paste that is made from sweetened azuki beans. Other fillings include custard, chocolate, cheese, or sweet potato. However the version I am documenting on is a twist on the original. They named themselves “Croissant Taiyaki”, it refers to the flaky texture of their baked fish, as apposed to the traditional spongy cake ones.
Croissant Taiyaki, Shibuya
Seeing this snack food stamped in a swimming fish pattern, I thought I knew what I would be getting with this one. Spoiler, I was wrong.
The little kiosk was just outside an indoor mall specializing in music and instruments. I went close to inspect their wood racks set with rows of fish. Four flavours in sweet and savoury, labelled in both English and Japanese. Custard cream, red bean their best seller, chocolate their seasonal flavour; and tuna, mayonnaise, and corn their only savoury option. The chocolate was clear with its darken colour. And I was amused by the thought of a fish being stuffed into a pastry shaped like a fish.
Having tried a similar fish shaped dessert at our Richmond night market, I opted for their red bean version. Paying 210yen for my treat. I handled my parcel only to feel its hard exterior and realize this wasn’t what I thought it was. This wasn’t what I was familiar with, it was better. They claim this is an original French sweet. Though one I have never heard of, or seen offered at any French patisserie. I digress.
It was a crispy strudel coated on one side with beads of sugar, and stuffed with your choice of filling. The crust void of filling was actually my favourite part. I wished for the option to have it unfilled. Though in hind sight, given its flakey buttery texture and the crunch of the sugar crystals, custard would have been a better filling choice. I can’t even imagine how the tuna and corn would have tasted. Though corn is often used in Japanese desserts as it is sweet. Or maybe they just omit the sugar all together for this one.
By the mall entrance, indoors, there were a few seats available. Each labelled for use by their customers only. And you could tell they were used just for that. Each orange table had a scattering of crumbs, like confetti. Eating, biting, tearing into each fish shaped snack was a messy affair. I grabbed a seat that gave me a direct look into their kitchen’s operations. Four cast iron presses were set up right in front of the window. And a chef in white was manning all four. Arranged in a row, they were similar in design and use to the ones used to make Takoyaki and the Hello Kitty snack cakes, both which I have written about on previous posts. But instead these moulds were of fish, tails swishing to the side. The dough and the needed filling is pressed between the heavy sheets of metal. Any excess dough that overflowed was left and allowed to continue to bake, giving the fish its boarder, and an extra helping of crunchy pastry.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This was a cute and unique snack. One I would love to go back for more of. They were made fresh and many leagues tastier than the strudels offered at local grocery stores in Vancouver. Don’t deny your cravings.