While doing research for our recent visit to Japan, one “must-do,” food-wise, stood out for me in particular. We absolutely had to stop in at Karafuneya, a coffee shop specializing in sweet, beautiful parfait desserts.
Karafuneya started in 1972 in Kyoto, and they now specialize in making over 150 different types of desserts, parfaits and sundaes. They even make savoury dishes for those who may not have a sweet tooth (like my husband Mark)!
Karafuneya has nine locations in Japan, specifically in Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures. We actually stumbled across their main shop in Kyoto by accident while shopping. It must have been Fate!
It’s very typical in Japan for restaurants to show off their food menu with plastic versions of each dish they serve. This is especially great for tourists who can’t read Japanese! Karafuneya follows this tradition with their delectable sweets displayed in their front window in all their plastic glory. If this doesn’t tempt you as you walk by, I don’t know what would!
Let’s peek into the window for a closer look, shall we?
Matcha-based products are very popular in Japan, and their parfaits are no exception. Here’s a matcha ice cream parfait with all sorts of other goodies mixed in:
This American Dog Parfait sounds savoury, but if you look close, you can see there’s fruit in it, as well as whipped cream on the sides, so I think the “dog” part of this parfait is more likely a pastry like an eclair. I like that they don’t take themselves too seriously!
Or how about a fried prawns parfait? Do you think this is a savoury dish with real prawns, or just another play on the visuals? This one is also listed on their menu under the “funny” heading…so I don’t know….
Or maybe fried pork cutlets are more your thing?
In the same vein, this is their french fries parfait. Notice the size of this dessert, too, by the way. They only get bigger from here, folks!
A few of these beauties all lined up in the shop window:
If you want a parfait for group of people, Karafuneya has desserts to satisfy your needs. This could easily serve everyone at your next birthday party or wedding reception. The price of this beauty is 18,000 Yen, or about $200 Canadian:
Or perhaps you just inherited a small country and you want to treat all your subjects to a parfait party. They have a dessert for you as well. The “Le Reve” will set you back around $600 Canadian. But you just inherited a small country, so you can afford it:
So, after the drooling and nose-pressing against the glass got old, we popped inside. Lo and behold, there were even more displays to admire! When you have over 150 parfaits on offer, you can’t really just display them all in the front window!
I mean, you could literally eat here once a week and it would take you close to three years to try every parfait on their menu!
Needless to say, once we sat down and started looking over the menu for real, it took some time to choose what we wanted. But the staff at Karafuneya understand that the choices are overwhelming. They are very helpful in answering any questions you may have, and can give recommendations. For the most part, they leave you alone to make your choices, and once you’re ready, you hit a button on your table that looks like a doorbell. This alerts the wait staff that you are ready to order!
Mark decided to order the Japanese-style Special Parfait, which arrived like this:
There’s tofu, sake ice cream, matcha ice cream, red beans, black sesame ice cream, and cornflakes in there!
I couldn’t help but order the Coffee Jelly Parfait. I needed a little pick-me-up in order to have the stamina for shopping! But I seriously had a hard time choosing just one. I wanted to try so many!
If you’re wondering if this is “as advertised” from the plastic-food version in the display window, it’s virtually identical! Here’s the display version:
For reference, here are the sizes of our desserts. They took a while to get through, I won’t lie. But we didn’t leave until we finished every bite:
Most of the desserts at Karafuneya range between $8-11 Canadian, which is about on par with your standard restaurant at home. But most of them don’t look like these, so if you’re in Japan, treat yourself to a visit to Karafuneya!
Locations can be found here: Karafuneya