How Oishii Strawberries Became the Chicest Fruit on the Internet

The sweet strawberries resemble jewels and are grown in perfect conditions.

oishii strawberries
Oishii's Omakase strawberries are the perfect centerpiece for any gathering. | Photo courtesy of Oishii
Oishii's Omakase strawberries are the perfect centerpiece for any gathering. | Photo courtesy of Oishii

It is easy to scoff at the idea of paying $4 for a single strawberry—or better yet, a box of 11 strawberries for $50. It feels too luxurious, elitist, and unrelatable. This was my reaction when I first saw Oishii strawberries popping up on my Instagram and TikTok feeds, looking more like succulent jewels than fruit. I found their perfection both captivating and eerie; I did not want to be seduced by the expensive strawberries.

And yet, upon the arrival of my first box of Oishii strawberries, the differences between these strawberries and other strawberries were immediate.

It began with the aroma. Oishii strategically has holes in their boxes so the scent of strawberries can seep out and the smell is intoxicating—fruity, sweet, and inviting. I would like to bottle it and wear it as a perfume. Then there’s the texture and flavor. A typical strawberry has bite and crunch and are often picked before they are ripe, leading to an unpleasant tart-forward flavor. Oishii strawberries give upon the first bite—they are pulpy and juicy with a tantalizingly soft texture akin to suede. The flavor is sweet and robust, and tastes just as good as it smells.

But before Oishii became the hottest strawberry on the internet, it was merely a vision from cofounder Hiroki Koga. “Hiroki is Japanese and grew up in Japan where fruit is really something to be celebrated,” Lesia Dallimore, Oishii’s VP of brand and marketing, explains. “Strawberries are his favorite fruit and if there were strawberries on the table when he got home as a kid, he knew that there was something special that happened that day.”

Oishii strawberry strawberries omakase
Oishii's strawberries are grown in vertical farms in New Jersey and California. | Photo courtesy of Oishii

When Koga finally came stateside, he was excited to try all of the fruits grown under California’s year round sunshine and temperate weather. His first bite of a strawberry, however, was disappointing—watery, crunchy, and lacking sweetness. It was nothing like the strawberries in Japan. Koga, who has a background as a vertical farming consultant, knew he could be the solution to this problem.

The first Oishii farm landed in New Jersey in 2019. The second growing facility arrived in California later in 2021. Then came an even larger farm, also in New Jersey, in 2022. New Jersey, it’s safe to say, is nothing like the mountains of Japan where the varietals for the Omakase strawberry traditionally grows.

Koga, alongside Oishii co-founder Brendan Somerville, was able to manipulate the atmosphere within the indoor farm’s walls to ensure ideal growing conditions. “We call it the environmental recipe—we recreate a perfect day, every day,” Dallimore says of the seemingly utopic process that suspends, for a brief moment, the reality of climate change for traditional agriculture. “The sun comes up with the lights and there’s the right amount of moisture, bees actually fly around and propagate all of our berries, and it’s just like the perfect day in the Alps in Japan, but in New Jersey.”

Oishii is trying to fulfill the demand for their strawberries but due to their delicate nature, they are currently only available in New Jersey, New York, and California. The brand, however, still finds clever ways to deliver the intoxicating flavors of their strawberries nationwide. They’ve collaborated with a number of celebrated food brands, including West~bourne for a strawberry butter, Brightland for a strawberry vinegar, and Open Market for a strawberry oat milk exclusive to Los Angeles’s Family Style Festival. “Our strawberry is so unique so the more people that can enjoy them, the better,” Dallimore says.

“We call it the environmental recipe—we recreate a perfect day, every day.”

It may sound sacrilege to turn the delicate flavors and creamy texture of Oishii berries into a spread or vinegar, but it’s actually a way for Oishii to upcycle the berries that might not be as aesthetically pleasing or may have subtle bruises and therefore aren’t fit for their typical packaging.

The price tag for Oishii strawberries is not quite as steep as when the fruit first debuted (you can get a box of 11 strawberries for $20 now, rather than $50, at participating Whole Foods), but it is still enough to cause pause. There is a solution in the works: new varieties of strawberries that will be sturdier and suitable for smoothies or children’s lunch boxes are currently being developed. They’re also hoping to launch a line of deliciously succulent tomatoes while continuing to show how vertical farming can improve the way we enjoy produce.

But the Omakase strawberry, in its current form, is deliberate in its price tag. The strawberry is methodically grown, hand-picked, and intended to be the best strawberry you can get—perfect for a hostess gift, a graduation present, or any kind of celebration.

“It’s worth it,” Dallimore says. “You’re having an experience instead of just consuming.”

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat!

Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.