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Enjoy the summer moments with a traditional Japanese confection

Much like the blossoms that burst forth on the branch only to flutter away weeks later, the traditional Japanese sweet known as ichigo daifuku is an ethereal bite available only in the spring and summertime.

Ichigo translates to strawberry, and daifuku describes the velvety-soft mochi, glutinous rice dough that covers the ruby heart-shaped fruit like a cloud. In Japan, they are easy to find at bakeries during cherry blossom festivals, most often filled with red bean paste. They are enjoyed in the late afternoon when friends and families picnic beneath trees heavy with pastel petals.

The Ichigo Daifuku is made at Suzuya Patisserie. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Ichigo Daifuku is made at Suzuya Patisserie. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“It’s relaxing. It’s about enjoying the moment,” says Misuzu Ebihara, co-owner of Suzuya Patisserie, a Japanese-inspired pastry shop, speaking of the treats and the time spent enjoying them.

She began making the confections after many customer requests, using mochi and bean paste imported from Japan. Because ingredients are limited, only 25 pieces are available each day. They are put out for sale at 1 p.m. at the bakery, located on Buffalo Drive south of the 215 Beltway, and have been known to sell out within five minutes.

Chef Misuzu’s version ventures away from the traditional recipe, with soft, chewy mochi stuffed with a thin layer of red bean paste, a whole fresh strawberry, and a dollop of Chantilly cream. “It’s not overly sweet,” she explains, “different textures and flavors create the balance.”

She plans to keep them on the menu until October, depending on the quality of strawberries available. For an even more authentic experience, pair the ichigo daifuku with a cup of steaming hot Sencha tea.

Suzuya Patisserie, 7365 S. Buffalo Drive, Suite 115. suzuyapatisserie.com

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