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The Search for Taiyaki in Seattle
Taiyaki, if you’re not already hooked on them, are filled (traditionally with bean paste, now with all sorts of delicious goodies), fish-shaped waffles. Originating in Japan, they’re now becoming more popular in the United States. My daughter, an aficionado of Japanese sweets, introduced me to them a few years ago. However, when our go-to taiyaki stop (Tako Kyuuban at Uwajimaya) closed unexpectedly, we had to search out where to find taiyaki in Seattle.
Here are five places we found, in or near Seattle, to get our Taiyaki fix.
Most Variety AND Most Creative: Bean Fish Food Truck
Most of the taiyaki places I’ve come across have a few choices of sweet fillings. However, BeanFish has both savory and sweet fillings in their fishies. My daughter had one filled with s’mores while I went straight for the “Crackyaki.”
Best Brick-and-Mortar: T-Town Cafe
Somewhere in the timeline of Taiyaki evolution, someone made the obvious leap of “Hey, fishes have mouths…let’s stuff them with ice cream.” And taiyaki ice cream was born.
T-Town Cafe in Tacoma (OK a bit out of Seattle proper but worth the drive) is my favorite place for taiyaki ice cream, chiefly because it’s a brick-and-mortar and you don’t need to guess about when they’ll be open next.
We opted for our fish upside down, which doesn’t make for as awesome photos but does make for less mess. My pick: Nutella filling, matcha ice cream, with Pocky and sprinkles. Mmmmm.
Address: 8515 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood, Washington 98499
I’d Love Ya If I Could Find Ya Award: Matcha Man
Matcha, matcha man…I’m looking for the matcha man! They do a pop-up, another ice-cream-in-the-fishes-mouth thing, which they announce on Instagram and their Facebook page. I understand that they have a brick and mortar location in the works. At the time of this writing their last pop-up was a few months ago (unfortunately just when I was leaving town) and I haven’t been able to get an answer as to when the next one will be.
Anyway, I fell in love with matcha ice cream in Japan, and it’s even better served up in a waffle fish. I’ll be at their shop when it opens.
Basic But Cheap: Boo-Han Market
These are basic taiyaki — no Nutella filling or ice cream here! They’re filled with the traditional sweetened bean paste, but only cost $1.00 each, considerably less expensive than their fancier gourmet cousins.
A word of warning: the food counter here is closed on Monday, so if you’re looking to begin your week with bean-filled fish here, you’re out of luck.
Address: 22618 Hwy 99, Edmonds, WA 98026
Next Time: Snowy Village
Snowy Village, in the University District, is closed Mondays. So I peered through the window, like the woman in the old Mervyn’s commercials: Open! Open!” And if you know what I mean, you’re as old as me.
Anyway, I didn’t get to sample their Taiyaki, just peer longingly at the menu, which appears to have something called “French Taiyaki.” Assuming that’s like “croissant taiyaki,” I bet it’s yummy. Just a few flavors here: plain, Nutella, red bean, bacon and cheese, or just cheese.
Address: 5264 University Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98105
And I leave you with this: A magical, Magikarp-shaped Taiyaki, which, unfortunately, I found on the streets of Tokyo. Someone in Seattle really needs to get this Taiyaki maker!
Know some other, secret Taiyaki place near Seattle? Let us know below in the comments!