Monday, September 7, 2015

Delightful Japanese Dessert at Cha-An Teahouse in East Village

Of all the cute little Japanese/Asian-inspired dessert places in East Village (ChikaLicious, Spot, etc.), Cha-An is my favorite because of their presentation, interior (such a cute tea house decorated with wooden floors/tables/booths, bamboo room dividers, rice-paper shaded lamps, etc.), and - of course - taste!

Cha-An's chef Tomako Kato is actually trained in French pastry, having apprenticed at Bouley Bakery with Bill Yosses, the Obamas' White House pastry chef. She has worked at Russian Tea Room and Le Bernardin before opening her own restaurant in 2005.

Cha-An offers a savory menu, but specializes in afternoon tea and dessert. I visited Cha-An with a large group, and we ordered a bunch of desserts to share. The Green Tea Roll Cake came with a scoop of sake ice cream and sweet red beans, and topped with thin cookie. The green tea roll cake had plenty of smooth green tea cream inside with a thin layer of red beans, which helped to moisten the cake. I would have liked a bit more green tea flavor. I couldn't taste the sake in the ice cream at all, but maybe for the better :) 

An order of Homemade Mochi includes three pieces. You can mix & match different flavors like green tea, black sesame, and earl grey chocolate. We had two green tea and one black sesame, and these are served in the shape of a snowman - so adorable! 

The mochi is PACKED with ice cream inside. Usually the ratio between mochi and the ice cream is pretty high (as in a lot of mochi and very little ice cream), but it was the opposite at Cha-An. I would have almost liked a bit more chewy mochi. 

My favorite was the Black Sesame Creme Brulee. Served in a beautiful black ceramic cup, the soft creme brulee (with crackly top, of course), had an amazing black sesame flavor. The black sesame ice cream in the middle and the rolled-up black sesame wafer (studded with more black sesame) added to the intense flavor. 

The scoops of Jasmine and Green Tea Ice Cream was delicious as well, but given the variety of really unique desserts, there was nothing too special about these ice cream. Definitely skip and try other things!

Finally, the Deconstructed Strawberry Pie with sake ice cream (again...not much sake flavor) was beautifully presented. I didn't like the flaky layers of pie crust. They should have used fresh strawberries, not the ones drenched in sugar. 

This dessert was beautiful to the eyes, but not tasty to the mouth. Maybe I disliked it because it was the least Asian-inspired.

Cha-An Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato