Elly’s Pastry makes the most beautiful fruit sandwiches in Manhattan’s Koreatown right now.
At the shop that opened earlier this year at 11 E. 32nd Street, near Fifth Avenue, it’s apparently strawberry sandwich season year round, and those sandwiches have gathered a small following online. In May, the user @lavivienyc shared an 11-second video from the bakery, claiming this is “the first Japanese fruit sando shop” in the city. It’s been liked by almost 70,000 people so far.
The sandwich is inspired by its fleeting annual appearance at convenience stores in Japan from January to April, where strawberry sandwiches can be purchased for a few dollars. All the fuss is over fruit arranged between angled slices of milk bread layered with heavy whipping cream and sugar.
It’s actually not the first time this type of sandwich has made its Manhattan debut. Hi-Collar, a coffee shop in the East Village added strawberry and banana fruit sandwiches to its menu during the pandemic, and Yamadaya, a small grocer in the West Village, once sold them for about $3 each. Cocoron, a small Japanese restaurant in Nolita, used to sell them in a basket near its front register, but no longer does. “It’s hard to preserve the fruit,” an employee said over the phone. “We don’t have plans to make them again.”
The bakery resides few steps above street level, in a small storefront that’s not much more than a counter for ordering. On the shelves of a display case, they are cut in half, and laid out with their cross-sections exposed. There are fruit sandwiches with matcha fillings and chocolate chip whipped cream, with strawberries on their own, or mixed with kiwi and banana, most of which cost around $8 before tax and tip.
The delicate sandwiches are preserved in air-tight plastic wrappers: Remember them this way, because the perfect triangles will become a heap of whipped cream and milk bread after a couple of bites. If you like licking your fingers after a meal, like I do, that’s not a bad thing.
The sandwiches are airy, but not light, and supremely sweet, making it somewhat challenging to finish one on your own. If I were to compare the strawberry version to a dessert, it would be strawberry shortcake, which Elly’s also sells.
It’s obvious to anyone who’s had the ravioli steak at Bad Roman or the new sandwich at Peter Luger, viral dishes such as this one are rarely the stars of the menu. I try to make a point of ordering dishes that aren’t as easy on the eyes, figuring that they have probably been overlooked. At Elly’s, that’s the mango sandwich. Three unflattering cubes of stone fruit are wedged into a wall of whipped cream, a lot less attractive than the strawberry version, but far more delicious. I thought the acidity balanced out the heavy cream better than strawberries.
And if we care about seasonality, mango season runs through September.