I was recently invited to attend the opening of Kasai & Koori in Boynton Beach and boy was I in for a fantastic and tasty surprise!!!
Kasai & Koori, an Asian-inspired dessert restaurant concept created by restaurateur co-founders Lee Goldberg and Taylor Levy, is taking traditional Asian desserts such as Japanese Kakigōri, Taiwanese shaved ice, Taiyaki waffles, and Korean Bingsu, and re-imagining them by giving them a distinct and delicious North American twist. The name Kasai & Koori is a derivative of the Japanese terms fire and ice, representative of polarizing forces coming together to deliver a truly unique experience in an upscale environment. According to Goldberg & Levy, “it’s all about dessert because dessert makes people smile.” Most of what they have here has not been available or tried in the US until now.
The people of Southeast Asia have been harboring a sweet secret for years: delicious traditional desserts inspired by the ice caves of the famed active volcano, Mount Fuji. And now, for the very first time, Americans are able to experience these delectable delicacies including Japanese Kakigōri, Taiwanese shaved ribbon ice, and Korean Bingsu, re-imagined with the grand opening of Kasai & Koori.
Kasai & Koori made its official debut in South Florida this month in Boynton Beach with three more locations spread throughout Palm Beach and Broward Counties opening soon. The idea for the unique business venture came to life thanks to longtime friends and business partners, Lee Goldberg and Taylor Levy. Goldberg, an attorney and original co-founder of popular eatery chain BurgerFi, and Levy, running his family’s Golden Corral franchise stake with four locations, stumbled upon the discovery of Kakigori, a Japanese frozen dessert delicacy, on a recent trip to Asia where they initially intended to scout Asian street food prospects for a food hall they were looking to develop back home.
Having had their light bulb moment and knowing they had to be first to market what they discovered abroad, Kasai & Koori was born. The duo continued exploratory trips back and forth to Asia to seek out the best in frozen cultural desserts that neighboring countries had to offer. After a trek up Mount Fuji which produces ice year-round when the air meets water, Goldberg and Levy ever fascinated by their experience and immediately began collaborating on Kasai & Koori.
“Kasai & Koori encompasses a melting pot of traditional Asian flavors through a virtually-untouched concept here in the United States,” says Goldberg. “We wanted the brand to pay homage to their culture while bringing an American twist to the menu, offering concepts that are not only one-of-a-kind here in South Florida, but to the United States as a whole.”
“In Japan, we have watched locals form lines each and every day around the block just to taste these desserts, often ordering two or more at a time,” echoes Levy. “We know we are able to offer something so distinct with the opening of Kasai & Koori and look forward to bringing our menu all across the nation.”
On Kasai & Koori’s menu, standout items include six varieties of Kakigōri, a dessert historically presented to Japanese royalty and made from shaved blocks of ice, garnished with flavors and toppings. Choices include the Sleeping Dragon (Matcha) with Matcha, Azuki Bean, Koori whipped cream, dragon milk, golden powder and the Miyako Moon (Mango) with mango, dragon milk, Koori whipped cream, Belgian Butter cookie. Meanwhile, ribbon ice, a thin-shaved snow ice delicacy is considered a bold ice and cream dessert full of taste and customized to the guest’s desire. Menu selections include the Island on Ice (Coconut) with coconut, dulce de leche, Koori whipped cream and The Timid Tanuki which translates to “Japanese Raccoon” but will signify a Cookies & Cream creation with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, Oreo.
Those on the go can opt for a Taiyaki; a popular handheld treat often served at festivals and street markets in Japan and Korea. Resembling a fish-shaped waffle cone, (snapper is a good luck symbol in Asia) the baked pastry is stuffed with sweet or savory specialty fillings including Kasai & Koori’s Cheraoke with chocolate and cherry, The Castaway with dark chocolate banana and coconut and the Bean There with sweet Azuki bean and golden powder. Savory hot Taiyaki sandwiches, ideal for any time of day, will also be available with options such as The Break Fish with egg, sausage, cheese and The Laughing Fish with cheddar, mozzarella, tomato.
Other indulgences on Kasai and Koori’s menu include artisan-made Mochi and Spiked Dragon Beard, three flavors of flavored ice infused with alcoholic beverages.
Kakigori is a traditional Japanese treasure originally reserved for royalty, made from shaved blocks of ice and garnished with flavorings and toppings.
Tropical Fuji (Mango) shaved ice, mango sauce, condensed milk, koori whipped cream, fresh diced mango, Belgian butter cookie
Pale Mountain- (Lychee) shaved ice, lychee fruit sauce, purple taro crème, lychee fruit stars
The Red Fox (Strawberry) shaved ice, strawberry sauce, diced strawberries, condensed milk, koori whipped cream, rare cheese cream, chia seed sauce, cinnamon streusel
The Sleeping Dragon (Matcha) shaved ice, matcha tea sauce, azuki bean, koori whipped cream, condensed milk, golden dragon powder
True Romance (Peach) shaved ice, white chocolate mint sauce, peach jam, chopped fresh mint
Up all Night (Coffee) coffee shaved ice, coffee sauce, condensed milk, dolce de leche, koori whipped cream, toasted almonds
Ribbon ice, a traditional thin-shaved ice delicacy from Southeast Asia, is a bold ice and cream dessert infused with flavorings and complemented with an assortment of toppings.
Tokashiki Moon ((Mango) ribbon ice, mango sauce, condensed milk, diced mango, koori whipped cream, Belgian butter cookie
Island on Ice (Coconut) ribbon ice, coconut sauce, dolce de leche, koori whipped cream, toasted coconut
The Dark Warrior (Coffee) ribbon ice, coffee sauce, dolce de leche, toasted almonds, koori whipped cream
The Timid Tanuki (Cookies & Cream) ribbon ice, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, Oreo® cookies & crumbles, koori whipped cream
Taiyaki Waffle Cone shaped like a seabream is known in Japanese mythology as the “lucky fish” and confections made in its shape have been eaten as a snack since the Meiji period. Filling the “fish” with frozen cream was a luxury though, and typically saved for festivals—until now.
Creamy ice cream wrapped in a thin layer of Japanese mochi rice dough. The resulting hand-held dessert is as playfully delicious as it is refined.
Each Kasai & Koori location will also be 100 percent committed to sustainability with bamboo cutlery, filtered Vero Water, reusable water bottles, and more. Kasai & Koori locations are peanut-free to create a safe environment for kids (and adults) with peanut allergies to be able to come in and enjoy.
Under Goldberg and Levy, Kasai & Koori will open four locations this fall in Fort Lauderdale (Sistrunk Market & Brewery), Boynton Beach (Canyon Town Center), Delray Beach (Pineapple Grove), and Pembroke Pines. The pair plans to open additional restaurants in Miami and Orlando before expanding further north and opening the doors to qualified franchisees.
I was super excited to learn that they will be opening a K & K store in Downtown Delray and will be added to our “Taste Atlantic Avenue” culinary tour. Stay tuned for more info on this…
This Kasai & Koori is located at 8784 Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach, FL 33472 561-336-2211 KasaiAndKoori.com