Meet the Latest Instagram Dessert to Hit the DC Area: Taiyaki Ice Cream

Try soft-serve in a fish-shaped cake

Black sesame and matcha swirl at Boba & Bites. Photo by Jessica Sidman.

Ever since the Cronut (remember that?), sweet treats have been one-upping each other for a moment in the social media spotlight. Over-the-top milkshakes brimming with candy. Doughnut ice cream sandwiches. Black ice cream. And let’s not forget unicorn toast.

Now behold the latest made-for-Instagram dessert to make its local debut: fish-shaped taiyaki ice cream. You can find it for $5 at Boba & Bites in the Mosaic District, which comes from Sea Pearl Restaurant & Lounge owners Sly Lai and Ly Lai. (Ly is also one of the sisters in Vietnamese restaurant Four Sisters.)

Instead of a cone, a Japanese fish-shaped cake (known as taiyaki) serves as the base. You can get the street snack stuffed with red bean paste (or not), and watch it being being molded on a hot press behind the counter. Filling the fish’s agape mouth is a swirl of black sesame, matcha, chocolate, or vanilla soft-serve. Top the dessert with rainbow mochi, sprinkles, a chocolate drizzle, or other toppings for an extra charge.

Chef Sly Lai says Boba & Bites is the first place in the area to serve the treat. (As far as we know, he is correct.)

The fast-casual restaurant, which opened last fall, also serves a mishmash of Asian street foods, including crispy crepes known as jianbing, Japanese onigiri rice balls, Hawaiian spam musubi, and Chinese rou jia mo sandwiches. You’ll also find bubble teas, smoothies, and other packaged Asian snacks like Pocky sticks and shrimp crackers.

Expect more soon. Lai says they already have their next dessert in the works: soft-serve ice cream wrapped in cotton candy. Watch for it on Instagram.

Boba & Bites. 8189 Strawberry Lane, #2, Falls Church; 703-866-8288. 

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.