The line at Taiyaki NYC around 8 p.m. on Sunday extended well past the building nestled in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood. While the line didn’t curl around the complex as it had the day before, it would take about an hour for the ice cream-goers at the end of the line to get inside.
Clusters of pastel-colored balloons and streamers plastered the exterior windows of the store, marking its location and celebrating its opening. As the line inched slowly forward, conversations rang louder, and the colorful balloons grew closer and closer. A promise of something sweet.
Matthew Wallace, a junior in Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said the line was a defining part of his experience at Taiyaki NYC.
“I really enjoyed the food, and going with my friends was fun,” Wallace said. “But we waited outside for almost two hours in the cold, so we were kind of miserable. I would go back since the food was so good, but not until the hype dies down so we won’t have to wait in such long lines.”
Taiyaki is a traditional Japanese dessert normally served as a warm treat without ice cream. It has a long history, dating back to somewhere between the 1600s and 1800s according to Taiyaki NYC’s website. The literal translation of the name is “fried fish” — “tai” meaning fish and “yaki” meaning cooked over heat — but the food can be baked or grilled, as well.
In Taiyaki NYC’s case, they bake their waffle-like cones into the traditional fish shape.
Upon entering the shop, it’s easy to understand why the line was so long. On Facebook, more than 2,000 people said they attended Taiyaki NYC’s grand opening, and an almost 18,000 additional people said they were interested. Meanwhile, the space itself looked like it could hardly fit 20 people.
The white-walled interior is tiny. A long counter with stools lines the giant windows, across from which stands another long counter with a register and the taiyaki behind a glass case. In between, people shuffled among one another, some trying to get napkins and others trying to find a seat.
People seemed happy, despite the limited space. Families and college students alike asked for sprinkles on their ice cream, and they seemed equally excited to receive them. The workers wore smiles and patiently answered any questions that the seemingly endless line of customers had.
Once people had their ice cream taiyaki — which came in a variety of flavors, including a vegan option — many stopped to photograph it against the white wall backdrop with the giant Taiyaki NYC logo.
The menu consists of a good variety. For their grand opening, Taiyaki NYC had nine flavors, 10 topping choices, four syrups and the option to get ice cream in a taiyaki cone, waffle cone or cup.
Additionally, they have a cafe drink menu with dairy-free options for their lattes and frappes. From hojicha to a matcha brew, and from cow’s milk to oat milk, even their lesser-known drink menu has tons of choices.
While the ice cream was smooth and creamy, it was the taiyaki that made it worth the wait. Comments on Taiyaki NYC’s Facebook page reflected this positive sentiment, as well.
After consuming the perfectly swirled ice cream, customers reach the anticipated taiyaki cone. The cone was detailed. It had scales, eyes, fins and a tale, all crafted from waffle batter. It served as a great subject to photograph and an even better one to eat. It also managed to stay warm, offering a contrast to the ice cream, and can be filled with either red azuki beans or custard.
“The taiyaki makes it stand out from other ice cream places,” Wallace said. “Honestly that’s what makes it so good — having a cold ice cream and finishing it off with a warm taiyaki cone. It’s amazing.”
Taiyaki NYC is located at 119 Seaport Blvd. and is open seven days a week. An taiyaki will cost $8, but comes with two toppings free.