Celebrating Japanese Dessert Culture: An Exclusive Ikigai Fruits Collaboration in New York City

Celebrating Japanese Dessert Culture: An Exclusive Ikigai Fruits Collaboration in New York City
Photo courtesy of Momoya SoHo

Have you ever had a dessert parfait made with Japanese luxury fruits?

Parfaits are a rare delicacy in most American dining experiences, but they’re a staple in Japanese dessert culture.

Recently, Ikigai Fruits partnered with Momoya SoHo, a popular Japanese establishment in New York City, and Executive Pastry Chef Norie Uematsu to turn our best-selling fruit into dramatic parfaits constructed with meticulous dedication.

History of Parfaits in Japan and America

Photo courtesy of Momoya SoHo

Parfaits originated in France in the late 1800s. The word “parfait” is French for “perfect”1. The original dessert was made with custard by boiling eggs, sugar, and cream. This mix was then frozen and served as a sweet treat, sometimes with fruit. When the dessert eventually came to the United States, it underwent a makeover.

American parfaits were known for their syrup, gelatin and fruit usage. They were also known for being served in tall glasses where patrons could see the different layers of sweetness and enjoy a visual dessert as well as an after-dinner treat.

Eventually, what used to be called a parfait evolved into the American “sundae.” This dessert was served in a stouter, wider dish, and is heavily associated with ice cream, bananas, and a vibrant red cherry placed at the top2.

In modern times, when most Americans think of the word “parfait”, it conjures an image of a cup of yogurt with layers of fruit and banana, often enjoyed as a quick breakfast or snack.

But in Japan, the parfait has been taken to new heights as a dessert. There are entire cafes and restaurants that dedicate themselves to serving some of the most intricately designed parfaits you’ll ever see. They usually include fruits, ice cream, cookies, traditional Japanese sweets like mochi, and sometimes even savory ingredients for the extra-adventurous eaters.

Japanese parfaits are famous for their over-the-top construction that makes each order look more like an intricate wedding bouquet than a dessert. Many popular tea houses or restaurants, especially those aimed to cater to young women, will have seasonal parfaits to reflect in-season fruits or holiday-related items.

The Ikigai Fruits x Momoya SoHo Collaboration

No one loves sharing the joy of Japanese parfaits more than Norie Uematsu. Her creative process can be seen in every detail of her meticulously crafted culinary wonders. You could even say showcasing the beauty and deliciousness of Japanese parfaits is her “ikigai’!

Photo courtesy of Momoya SoHo

Working with Chef Uematsu, we were able to bring Ikigai Fruits to the people of New York City in two incredible events.

The Pink Chocolate Swan Parfait (Valentine’s Day Event)

Photo courtesy of Momoya SoHo

If you follow our Instagram, you may have seen images of a delicate pair of pink swans decorating the top of a magnificent parfait full of tricolor strawberries. Made of pink chocolate, the Swan Parfait’s release marked the first ever Ikigai Fruits restaurant collaboration. Chef Uematsu truly outdid herself making a mouth-watering dessert that could have been plucked from an art museum display case.

The parfait was available on select days throughout the month of February to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Along with the thoughtful construction of the parfait in utilizing the shape of a swan, a bird associated with undying love, Chef Uematsu allowed each of the Ikigai Fruits Tricolor Strawberries to shine. Diners were treated to a fragrant bed of Kotoka, Awayuki, and Pearl White strawberries under the chocolate sculpture. This rare chance to taste all three strawberries was truly exceptional.

An Exclusive Dessert Omakase Menu

Our second event was an invite-only 7-course dessert omakase. Usually, omakase menus are dominated by savory foods that have sweet palette cleansers between dishes. To focus on serving as many luxury desserts as possible, Chef Uematsu did the reverse, employing savory palate cleansers between sugary treats.

The menu featured splendidly elegant desserts, each a unique expression of the fruits at their center. Red, pink, and white strawberries appeared in dessert flights featuring different pastries, as well as a smoking chocolate cake.

Photo courtesy of Momoya SoHo

However, the resounding favorite of the evening was the Crown Melon parfait. Chef Uematsu described using such an expensive melon to sit atop this magnificent creation, as well as how she created the melon milk sorbet, vanilla crumble, and sudachi jelly that decorated the inside of the parfait glass.

The Ikigai Fruits x Momoya SoHo collaborations are a love letter to Japanese desserts, fruits, dedication, and artistic vision.

We’re so proud and thankful that our first collaboration was able to celebrate so many aspects of Japanese culture. The mission of Ikigai Fruits is to share the work of dedicated rural Japanese fruit artisans with the world, and in doing so, celebrate the ingenuity of Japanese fruit cultivation.

Thank you for your continued support, and be on the lookout for future Ikigai Fruits collaborations! What city would you like to see us in?

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