One thing I love about Japanese cuisine is their sweets. They really do great job with pastries and all sorts of desserts. It is somehow more delicate, light, and never overly sweet. No matter which one you chose, you can almost be certain that you will get a great flavor.
A quick background about Cafe Zaiya – In 1990, a Japanese entrepreneur opened a small bakery over in NJ called Parisienne. They offer fresh hand made sweets and baked goods, and when they came over to NYC, they wanted to do more than just desserts, therefore they became “Cafe Zaiya.”
I feel like it is almost like a little hidden gem, as it is never overly crowded (or maybe I just avoid rush hours). It is pretty spacious in the inside, and towards you right is the dessert section, offering Parisienne sweets. The other side on the left, they offer sandwiches, bento box, and other food items. In the middle between the 2 sections, they have bread and other baked goods on the metal shelf.
There are plenty seating including counter seats, and there are condiments, coffee and hot water for tea, by the entrance door. Nice and bright with lots of windows, and enough room to walk around the tables and chairs. The only thing is that the chairs make lots of noise against their hard tile (?) floor, I always try to pick up the chair when I sit or stand, instead of dragging the chairs, but it still makes that creaky noise that I really don’t like. I wish if they put some sort of rubber protection shoes on the bottoms of the chairs…
I usually visit Cafe Zaiya for when I want some afternoon sweets, so I have never actually tried their food like sandwiches, but I have purchased some of their breads and bakes goods, and they were all really good. We ordered Cream Puff ($3), Tiramisu (3.75), and Fruits Chiffon Cake ($4.75). One tip, when you order any sweets, you get a small discounts on your coffee/tea. The Cream Puff was surprisingly more epic that expected, it was nice size, and had custard cream on the bottom half, and whipped cream on the top half. The generous amount of filling made it heavy, and it was truly heavenly.
The Tiramisu was more elegant, both in looks and taste. It was rich and creamy but yet light and very tasty. It is hard to mess up Tiramisu, but believe me, I have had not-so-great Tiramisu in the past. This one was a solid, good Tiramisu.
The Chiffon cake was a great deal, I thought, considering the size of it. It is a good size to share with others, and very light, airy, fluffy, and not overly sweet. Fresh fruits were really nice also. You don’t feel heavy after eating them, since they are really light! It was basically a good, high quality, fluffy sponge cake topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits, dusted with small amount of powder sugar.
Over all, we all got what we wanted for our afternoon sugar craving and a little R&R. It was all very tasty, light, good quality sweets. I have had several different kinds of sweets from there, and I have never been disappointed. And it is good that I can always sit and enjoy a nice little afternoon delights with hot tea, even though we are very close to very crowded area. So, next time you need a nice little relaxing cafe around Bryant Park, walk over to Cafe Zaiya for some peace, quiet, and sweets!
Cafe Zaiya – 18 E 41st St, New York, NY 10017