Uji Time, the Berkeley treat shop known for its adorable fish-shaped cones stuffed with soft serve, has expanded to San Francisco. The second location occupies the space of now-closed Mitsu Teahouse, a bubble tea spot which gained notoriety for its cotton candy-topped drinks, in Japantown’s Peace Plaza West. Uji Time currently in a soft-opening phase, with a grand opening party planned for early June.
The famed cone, called taiyaki, is a take on the traditional Japanese dessert in the shape of a fish, usually filled with red bean paste. Uji Time takes it to another level by stuffing the cone with soft serve as well. Owner Sharon Ku wanted to bring desserts commonly found in Japan to the Bay Area, opening Uji Time in Berkeley near Cal’s campus last year. While it is now an extremely popular destination for students craving a unique dessert, Ku began planning her San Francisco location even before the Berkeley store opened; she found a space in Japantown about two months ago. “San Francisco is a very multi-cultural city and hopefully everyone is open to what we’re offering,” Ku said.
The photogenic taiyaki cone is similar to a waffle cone, but not as sweet. Ku and her team have modified the common taiyaki recipe so it can hold the soft serve without breaking, adding tapioca starch to the batter to make the cone chewy. It’s supposed to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside,” said Ku. “It won’t crumble when you eat it.”
However, if you order the taiyaki cone, you might be in for a waiting game. Depending on how busy it is at the shop, it could take up to 20 minutes to get your hands on one of the much-desired cones. The process involves 10 minutes of baking, and 10 minutes of cooling before it can be filled with ice cream.
Regardless of the vessel in which it is served (other choices include waffle cones and bowls), Uji Time regularly offers matcha, black sesame, and tofu soft serve. The shop also has seasonal flavors, which, have included purple yam, lavender, lychee, rose, and coffee in the past, plus new items that are exclusive to the San Francisco location like slush drinks and amitsu (another traditional Japanese dessert similar to a parfait).
For now, Uji Time’s soft opening hours are 3 p.m.-9 p.m. daily, and not all menu items are available. Stay tuned for a grand opening date.