Japan’s farmers produce some of the world’s finest fruit, constantly improving their varieties with assiduous management and painstaking techniques. Fresh fruit is delicious just as it is, but you can always add a little something to make it even better. The Japanese interpretation of the fruit parfait is a prime example that dates back to the early years of the Showa period (1926–1989) and the birth of the “fruit parlor,” a popular institution that operates as both tea room and fruit shop. Over the years, the fruit parfait has evolved into a distinctive dessert, with seasonal fruit and uniquely Japanese ingredients.
The parfait is served in a tall glass with fruit, ice cream, syrup, fresh cream, and other flavorful ingredients arranged artistically in layers. Many people take these creations very seriously—there are even parfait critics. Lines of customers can often be seen waiting to sample the most popular menu items at certain famous establishments. At any time of year, there’s always some fruit in season to enjoy!
At this venerable store, fruit gets star billing
Founded in 1885, Shinjuku Takano is one of Japan’s most celebrated fruit purveyors. Its fruit parlor was among the first to create the mixed fruit parfait, which, along with the muskmelon parfait, ranks as its bestseller. Filled with 12 varieties of top-quality fruit rigorously selected for peak flavor, this parfait features fruits at their finest.
Takano Fruit Parlor
(Shinjuku Store) 3-26-11-5F
Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
A parfait fit for royalty
Pâtisserie Asako Iwayanagi arranges layers of seasonal fruit, original fruit gelato, and jelly into a creation that looks like a jewelbedecked crown. The Parfait Bonne Annee, shown here, is offered for a limited time only, during the New Year holidays. The shop’s parfait menu varies according to the availability of fresh ingredients in season.
Patisserie Asako Iwayanagi
4-4-5 Todoroki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Taste and compare
One attraction of the parfaits at Asakusa’s Fruits Parlor Goto is that patrons can compare the flavors of different varieties of the same fruit all at once. The strawberry parfait, featuring three or four varieties, is especially popular. Served with house-made strawberry jam and ice cream, this is a luxury treat for the taste buds.
Fruits Parlor Goto
2-15-4 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
This article is an excerpt from Kateigaho International Japan Edition 2019 Spring/Summer.