Top 5: Sweet Tooth
People always want to know what my favorite restaurant is, what my favorite dish is, who the best chef in town is. It's impossible to answer. My brain is catalogued in such a way that I need to answer the question with a question: what type of cuisine? what type of restaurant? how do you define best? I need to dig through the recesses of my mind to figure out the answer. Even then, my answer may change depending on the day. If you asked me right now, broadly, what my favorite Asian restaurant is, I'd say Fork & Stix.
It reminds me of summer with the bright flavors of Southeast Asia and coconut milk. Ask me again in winter and it might be Lulu or Yummy17, somewhere I can get a piping hot bowl of soup.With regards to my the 'best' or 'top' dishes, I always go back to one thing: what do I desperately want to eat again? It has nothing to do with being from a fancy restaurant or the dish's complexity. These are the 5 desserts that I've had in the first half of this year (well, a little more than the first half) that have stayed with me the most.
Sidney Street Cafe's
A crumbled piece of moist, wonderful carrot cake served with shards of crispy ginger meringue, dabs of passion fruit gel, black currants, cheesecake puree (a “holy shit” delicious ingredient), and a carrot-passion fruit sorbet. Pastry chef Bob Zugmaier nailed it.
Khanom Mor Gang
Nomad chef Chris Bailey made the list last year with his modern take on the ice cream sold street side throughout southeast Asia; this year he does it with his spin on the classic Thai mung bean custard. In his own words: "The base of the dish is coconut custard thickened with mung bean. Atop that was an anise sable crumble followed by macerated white peach. It’s finished with a pandan and Thai chile ice cream for a lingering heat. It’s basically Thailand in a cup."
I'd never even had a green strawberry until this time last year in the Libertine CSA. Their acidity and kiwi-esque flavor makes them a perfect summer time ingredient, particularly if they're pickled or used in dessert. Niche's Sarah Osborn blew me away with her green strawberry semifreddo with anise hyssop cream, green strawberries, and fresh red strawberries. Like all dishes at Niche, beautiful plating goes hand in hand with a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
The team at Candlenut are doing with Peranakan cuisine what Chris Bailey is doing with Thai—taking the classics and making them way, way better. Kueh Salat is typically a two-layered gelatinous dessert. The bottom is made of glutinous rice, the top is a green pandan custard. Malcolm Lee and his team break it down: an intense pandan custard topped with coconut shavings, crushed Kueh Bangkit (coconut cookies), and a coconut sorbet on the side.
We went back to the restaurant just for this. Unreal balancing of coconut and the vanilla-ish pandan. I would consider this a perfect dish.
Roasted Banana Panna Cotta
If it wasn't obvious that my favorite desserts are Asian-influenced, it should be now. Simone Faure (of La Patisserie Chouquette) made a roasted banana panna cotta with layers of mango chutney and coconut cream, topped with a pandan cream and a tiny financier for Bernie Lee's Silk Rodeo dinner. It was outrageously good, especially when paired with her other dessert, a jasmine-scented chouquette filled with black sesame and green tea creme. Hard to beat those combos.