Stop what you’re doing. Before reading this story, put in your headphones and turn on K-pop sensation BTS’ latest hit, “Dynamite.” While this song isn’t quite as sweet as Sweet Society’s treats, it will help transport you to the light and bright new space in Electric Depot.
“It’s called taiyaki,” explains Sweet Society co-owner Karen Vong of the fish-shaped dessert that I have been enviously eyeing on Instagram, “which literally means fish cake in Japanese.”
For weeks, I have wondered about this adorable and aesthetically pleasing dessert. Each time it popped up on my Instagram news feed, I was drawn further into my sugar-focused fixation. What could it taste like? What is the purple ice cream under it? How soon can I get my hands on my own? Finally, this is my moment. I’m going to have all the answers.
The brightly colored dessert is placed in front of me, but before I have the chance to take a bite, Vong explains that the purple soft serve’s flavor is called “ube,” aka purple yam. Suddenly, I’m apprehensive. Not vanilla? Or chocolate? Or even pistachio? I have never heard of potato-flavored dessert.
“Asian flavors are hard to explain,” Vong says. “Unlike American desserts, it’s more about the natural flavors than just an overly sugary taste. Everything you think you know about things like yams or red bean, put it out of your mind.”
Taking my first bite, I am immediately transformed into a disciple of Vong’s great knowledge. If something this delicious comes from a yam, I need to know what else my uncultured mind has been missing out on for years. Turns out, that exists in the sweet form of red bean, which is commonplace in Asian cuisine. I can’t describe the flavor–I’m not a food critic, after all–but just trust me, you have to taste it for yourself.
Such is the case with every item on Vong’s ever-changing menu. “I don’t ever want to get bored,” she explains. “There’s too many flavors out there to stick to the same thing all the time.”
Traveling throughout the country and the world, Vong and co-owner Patrick Wong, who you can read more about in this story about Bōru Ramen, were inspired to bring to Baton Rouge Asian food and flavors that are as fun to eat as they are to look at.
“I wanted to share my experience with the city,” says Vong, noting that the addition of unique shops like hers help to put the Capital City on par with other large cities like Houston. “Everything I serve is made with love, and my goal is to create things that are beautiful and delicious. Your eyes eat first, so I want to engage all the senses.”
As I snap a few final photos of my newly manicured hand–yes, I got a manicure for this–holding various desserts in front of the store’s neon sign, I feel an immediate rush of joy that I haven’t felt at least since before the pandemic. Bopping along to a constant stream of energetic K-pop, it’s like being in a carefree, sugar-fueled bubble.
“My goal is to offer something that appeals to adults and children,” Vong notes, adding that her and Wong’s intention is to pair ramen and desserts to create an entire evening of immersion into Asian flavors. “What I noticed is that there are so few places in Baton Rouge that cater to both adults and kids. I love the idea of bringing people together and giving them a way to connect. You can come here and taste the real flavors, sing along to K-pop and just have fun, no matter how old you are.”
Sweet Society is currently open Monday through Sunday from 12 to 8 p.m. To learn more, follow along on the store’s social media here.