A two-day exhibit dedicated to yokan, a Japanese confectionery made out of azuki beans, sugar and agar, a gelatin like product extracted from seaweed, popped up in New York on Friday (November 8).
Yokan, which originated from China about 700 years ago, got a modern makeover with an American twist at the Yokan Collection exhibit, sponsored by the Japanese government.
Managing director Mitsuharu Kurokawa of Toraya Confectionery Co., founded in the early 16th century, wanted to promote the sweet bean jelly in the U.S. and equated its potential rise in popularity to sushi.
"Sushi, it's very famous right now, but 20, 30 years ago it was not as famous," Kurokawa said. "The reason why sushi became famous was because of say, the California roll, that's something invented in the United States. And that made it very famous in the world. By teaming up with Dylan's Candy Bar and Bill Yosses, we can do something that we cannot do in Japan."
Kurokawa is an 18th generation heir to his company.
Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses turned the traditional sweet bean jelly dessert into yokan pops, made out of white bean paste, pureed chestnut, covered in chocolate and coated with crispy quinoa.
"There are plenty of people who love this sweet from other parts of the world, including myself, so why not spread the sweetness?" Lauren said.
Fourteen renown Japanese businesses who specialize in making yokan will be at the exhibit through Saturday (November 9).
(Production by Hussein Al Waaile and Roselle Chen)