Nomsters! Over the years we’ve seen a bunch of Japanese dessert spots open up in San Francisco, some of which have made their way over from Japan and others started a little closer to home. In general, Japanese food tends to be on the subtler side when it comes to flavor and this is what makes their desserts so enjoyable. If something is super strong and rich, you can only have a little bit before it gets to be too much, but as you’ll see in the list below, Japanese desserts tend to be lighter and fluffier, which also leaves you not feeling as lethargic and totally stuffed at the end of your meal. Anywho, with all that said, let’s jump into our list of the best Japanese desserts in SF!
Gram is a chain from Japan that serves incredible soufflé pancakes. If you’ve never had one before, it’s like you’re eating a fluffy, slightly sweet cloud covered in syrup. They also have specialty flavors like the chai tea and boba soufflé pancake in the second image below, as well as other foods like french toasts, rice bowls, bentos, and various drinks. Read all about Gram in our full blog post about them here!
2. Matcha Cafe Maiko
Matcha Cafe Maiko actually started off in Hawaii and made one of their first expansions to the mainland in 2018, which was their SF shop! They have absolutely amazing matcha- and hojicha-themed desserts and drinks you definitely need in your life. Their matcha ice cream and the hojicha latte were our favorites, but you really can’t go wrong here. Read all about Matcha Cafe Maiko in our full blog post about them here!
3. Beard Papa
One of the best Japanese desserts in SF we’ve had is from Beard Papa in SoMa. It’s another spot that’s originally from Japan, and they make these phenomenal cream puffs that are nice and crispy on the outside with vanilla cream on the inside. The normal menu has flavors you would expect like chocolate, strawberry, and matcha, but they also have a rotating menu of special flavors like this Oreo cream puff below. Read all about Beard Papa in our full blog post about them here!
Mochi donuts – well, basically any pastries made with mochi – are one of our favorite desserts of all time! There’s something about the added chewiness that’s just so satisfying. If you’re not in the know, mochi is Japanese white rice that’s pounded into a paste and traditionally eaten as a snack or dessert. In more recent years, mochi has been incorporated into pastries of all kinds including donuts, waffles, and muffins (if you’re in Berkeley, make sure to check out Third Culture Bakery for their mochi waffles and muffins!), and our favorite mochi donut joint in SF is Mochill in Japantown! Just like Gram’s soufflé pancakes, these mochi donuts have a unique texture that you need to try for yourself and are definitely one of the best Japanese desserts in SF. Read all about Mochill in our full blog post on them here!
5. Third Culture Bakery
We admit it… this spot is actually in Berkeley, but it’s a short drive from SF and their mochi pastries are ridiculous. They have mochi donuts, of course, but our personal favorite is either their mochi muffins or mochi waffles! The muffins, similar to Mochill’s cupcakes, are denser than the donuts, so they stay more moist and so we actually like them more than the donuts. You just get more of the chewy mochi texture. The waffles are also amazing, and you absolutely need to try the takoyaki mochi waffle! It tastes exactly like takoyaki without the octopus.
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