If you’ve ever spent any time inside an H-Mart, a popular Asian grocery store, you’ll likely have seen the fish-shaped waffle pastries filled with red bean paste in the frozen section known as Taiyaki in Japan and Bungeo-ppang in South Korea.
You may have also seen the social media trend, which migrated from Japan to the United States, of seeing these adorable fish either stuffed with scoops of ice cream, or placed upside down with its mouth cupped around a cup of ice cream.
So I headed out to SomiSomi, a popular Korean ice cream shop with locations around the United States, to find out if there was any substance behind this trendy and eye-catching combination.
This dessert is crafted with a custom waffle iron and can be filled with a variety of fillings, including custard, cheddar, Oreo, Nutella, taro (a sweet root vegetable) and the traditional red bean paste.
Your standard ice cream choices are milk, milk tea, matcha, Oreo, ube and horchata.
Each week, SomiSomi has a rotating menu of “swirls” or combinations of two ice cream flavors. I went with the ube and milk tea for my ice cream, and I opted to have my Taiyaki stuffed with Taro filling.
Because there was no seating to allow me to enjoy the ice cream inside, I asked the employee behind the counter what would be the best way to preserve my ice cream in the car. He suggested the Ah-Boong ($5.95) and packaged the Taiyaki separately from the ice cream, which was shielded with a lid to trap in the cold.
I wouldn’t recommend traveling too far with this ice cream on a particularly hot day, but it did work reasonably well for me on the ride home. The ice cream did not retain its picture-perfect swirls and aesthetically pleasing shape, but held together for the most part. I only lost a few drops off the side of the cup, but who says eating ice cream is supposed to be neat?
Nonetheless, the soft crunch of the Taiyaki and the mild, subtle sweetness of the taro filling made up for the spillage with a very well-selected pairing of flavors. I liked the balance of the milk tea with the ube, with earthy and rooty flavors blending in with the more traditional, vanilla-like taste of the milk tea.
The cold brew float ($5) option is intriguing as well, pouring a cup of coffee into your ice cream of choice.
I would encourage you to check out SomiSomi if for no other reason than to see the Taiyaki made from scratch in front of you, which is a neat experience to witness before taking home your sweet treat.
Address: 3520 State Highway 6, Sugar Land
Dining Options: Takeout
Hours: Noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Noon-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Entree prices: $3.95-$5.95
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: None
Star of the show: Ah-Boong
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars