Let’s say you’re designing a menu for a restaurant, and you want to serve parfaits. More precisely, you want to serve as many different kinds of parfaits as you can think up. How far do you think you could make it towards that goal before things got completely crazy?
Apparently the tipping point to culinary weirdness is about 195 varieties. How did we calculate that? Well, on a recent visit to Kyoto, we found a café that has about 200 different types of parfaits, including five that’re topped with things like corn dogs and deep-fried prawns.
For the most part, parfait composition is wide open. Sure, they all have ice cream and whipped cream, but aside from that, you can pretty much top it with any kind of fruit, nuts, or candy you feel like. Heck, we’ve even eaten at a café in Tokyo’s Shinjuku that tops its parfaits with whole ice cream cones.
Still, we’d never come across something like the deep fried lineup at Karafuneya Coffee in Kyoto.
Sure, some of their options are predictable, like parfaits with chocolate, caramel, or matcha green tea. But stuck way down at the bottom of the menu, you’ll find the Fried Chicken Parfait, Crispy Pork Cutlet Parfait, Captivating Corn Dog Parfait, Pile of French Fries Parfait, and the 1,000-yen (US $9.30) Ultimate Fried Prawn Parfait.
Faced all at once with five desserts we’d never seen before, we had a hard time choosing which one to order. Eventually, we settled on the fried prawns, largely because we figured with a title like “Ultimate,” it had to be good.
The menu says that since the food is cooked to order, there would be a bit of a wait until our parfait was ready. We didn’t mind, because really, we’d already been waiting our whole lives for a dessert both so insane and insanely tempting.
After 10 minutes, the waiter delivered our seafood dessert.
You might expect Karafuneya Coffee to somehow alter the recipe for fried prawns to make them more suited to dessert. They didn’t. The two prawns are exactly like what you’d get with a lunch platter, with a delicious aroma coming from the oil they’re cooked in and the tangy sauce drizzled over them.
Eating prawns with a spoon would obviously be a tough thing to do, but thankfully our table was set with chopsticks, too. We grabbed a pair and took a bite.
Once again, the flavor was everything you’d expect from normal fried prawns. Delicious, and absolutely not the sort of thing you’d think to eat in the same mouthful as ice cream. As a matter of fact, since we essentially had an entrée and dessert in the same glass, we decided to eat both prawns first, and then move onto the ice cream.
As we polished off the second prawn, we discovered that the design of the parfait isn’t just decadent, but clever too. Sticking two freshly fried shrimp into a dish of ice cream would be a good way of turning the whole thing into a melted, soggy mess, but Karafuneya places the prawns on top of some Turkish delight, and the marshmallow-like confectionary insulates the cream from their heat.
Just like with the prawns, the ice cream was everything we could ask for in the flavor department, and we walked away refreshed, satisfied, and with a new image of ordinarily reserved and refined Kyoto.
Karafuneya Coffee (Sanjo branch) / 店名：からふね屋珈琲 三条本店
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Kawaramachi, Sanjo Kudaru Daikokucho 39
Open 9 a.m.-1 a.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]