Koishi is a dessert shop bringing to Kensington Market all of Japan's ice cream sandwich trends.
A joint endeavour by the owners of the Japanese pastry shop Little Pebbles and Arthur Pezzelli — former co-creator of one of Toronto's hottest ice cream stores to date, Bang Bang — Koishi is all about high-quality, one-of-a-kind flavours.
Translated to 'pebble' in Japanese, Koishi is named after the now-deceased cat (R.I.P.) of owners Dada Ahn and her husband, Chang Baek, hence the store's cat motif designed by Baek himself.
It's a tiny counter, with a descending kitchen where bakers make all their goods from scratch. The Little Pebbles shop that once occupied the space has since moved four units down in the same building.
The main focus here is the outstanding selection of ice cream. Since moving into wholesale ice cream, Pezzelli has opened himself to collaborations, and the flavours at Koishi are a partnership between Pezzelli's know-how with a Japanese-inspired palate.
There's about nine flavours available right now, ranging from matcha (which uses a strong matcha tea powder from Japan) to a very sweet honey soba flavour (using toasted buckwheat and caramelized honey).
A sakura cheesecake flavour uses imported pickled cherry blossoms, which Ahn first turns into jam before Pezzelli transforms it into ice cream.
You can get any of the flavours in single scoops ($5), doubles ($6.90), triples ($7.90) or kiddie-sized ($3.90).
Ice cream toppings include sprinkles, pop rocks, Japanese chocolate-dipped nibs and roasted kinako cookies ($1), which come in rotating flavours like black sesame. You can grab your scoops in in sugar cones, which are an extra 20 cents, or waffle cones which are 90 cents.
But the real attraction here are the ice cream sammies. The melon pan ($7.90) is not only decadent, it's also the first of the kind in the city by way of Japan.
The green milk bun is already making waves in Asia, baked with cookie dough on top to create a crusted, turtle-shell effect.
Note that the melon pan doesn't actually doesn't taste like melon, much like how the Hong Kong-style crusted pineapple bun doesn't actually taste like pineapple.
The crackle puff sandwich ($6.90) comes in a few different colours but are all the same flavour.
With a hollowed out top shell, it makes the perfect vehicle for a scoop of super sweet ice cream.
An exciting fave is the senbei: a pair of rice crackers ($6.90) made of white and brown rice.
It's a light gluten-free alternative to all the other very sweet options available.
If you like ultra-sweet treats, you'll like the stuff at Koishi: just prepare for the intense sugar rush you'll get after.