Summers in Tokyo have spoiled me–afterall, Matcha Eclairs at Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki set the bar really high for Japanese-style French desserts. But in New York’s East Village, there is a sleek and gorgeous kitchen that rivals any Tokyo patisserie. Meet Chika, the elegant Japanese chef running Chikalicious Dessert Bar. With vibrant dessert pairings, Chikalicious’ menu is seasonal so every visit is full of different Japanese-influenced French desserts. Particularly, the Fromage Blanc “Cheesecake” and the Chocolate Tart with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream are fantastic must-haves. My French food connoisseur, Lauren, has told me that Chika’s cheesecake is the closest thing she’s had to an authentic French cheesecake–a serious compliment if you’ve ever met a Parisian.
Whether or not you’ve indulged in a prix fixe dessert experience before, an afternoon in Chikalicious is a treat. And if you’re lucky enough to snag a counter seat, you’ll get to see Chika work her magic (hint: the satisfaction of watching powdered sugar fall onto buttery pecan cookies is one of the secret pleasures you’ll get to enjoy).
An interactive three-course dessert experience is a fascinating one as is. But when the dessert-making happens in front of you curtesy of Chika’s team, the wait between each course doesn’t feel long or empty. It’s easy to fixatedly watch fresh ingredients being whipped up, transformed, and served. Particularly, there is something magical about the Fromange Blanc Cheesecake–with no crust, the consistency of the cheesecake is creamy and light. And this accurately describes all of Chikalicious’ dessert–subtle touches of sweetness and creaminess prevent you from getting sick of it a couple bites in.
Apart from the classic chocolate tarts and cheesecakes, Chika comes up with innovative recipes perfect for the summer. Sweet corn ice cream? Basil sorbet? All things you can try at Chikalicious. The Petits Fours that follow after your main dessert is a great way to try some of Chika’s simpler recipes as well. The buttery pecan cookies and coconut marshmallows are delightful. Again, watching sugar being dusted onto freshly baked pecan cookies is a strangely satisfying pasttime. So as you bask in the sunlight (thanks to the floor to ceiling windows at Chikalicious bar), lean back with a glass of dessert wine as per Chika’s suggestion, and enjoy this sweet oasis in East Village.
*Revisted and Edited November 23, 2015
Chikalicious’ menu is now in full Fall mode! Pomegranate sorbet, chai cakes, and apple spice–just to give you a sneakpeak.