Western culture celebrates desserts rich in protein. In Japan, in contrast, whole fruit — or unripe cucumber, pine nut, or other small summer fruits — are diced and used as middlepieces for “banana kopi,” or mandarin pineapple cake, or koshigashi yuzu, not to mention birthday cakes, mochi, and jelly donuts.
A recent New York Times article on world’s most popular desserts found a Japanese dish that’s fairly common across both cultures, but also does not appear on a lot of people’s menus in the West. That recipe is for “motoshin udon wa panino,” the fried noodles in miso broth with eggs. Udon, Japanese sushi rice, and miso are hearty carbohydrates and good for a range of ailments. Kotoshin , in Japan, contains 35 grams of protein, according to a 2017 New York Times piece. While not classified as a dessert, natto, a popular Japanese food with a reputation for being anti-inflammatory, plays a role in the dish.
Here are six other popular Japanese desserts used as small morsels at restaurants across the U.S.