50 SHADES OF TOKYO DESSERTS | SHADE 22
Update: I revisited Janice Wong for her 7-course dessert degustation menu. Read the details here.
A few months ago Shinjuku saw a grand opening of a new shopping mall NeWoman, a space specifically targeting contemporary women and providing everything that would satisfy their cravings, including, among other things, a few exclusive cafes and restaurants. I was particularly excited to see Janice Wong’s name on the list of restaurants. The famous Singaporean pastry chef, often referred to as “doyenne of desserts”, has gained numerous accolades and a title of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef by S. Pellegrino two years in a row. The Chef is known for her “imperfectly perfect” creations and strives to present innovative and progressive desserts relying on molecular gastronomy techniques. I promptly scheduled a visit last weekend to try first-hand these highly praised unique sweet treats. As I entered the stylish premises I was pleasantly surprised to find a lounge bar with few tables and a large concrete counter with high leather chairs. The modern minimalistic décor creates an atmosphere of a chic yet relaxing place that could be casual enough for meeting up with girlfriends or sleek enough for a date. The concept is similar to Toshi Yoroizuka – everything is prepared a la minute and the customers can watch two pastry chefs do their magic in an open kitchen. I was particularly impressed with the menu which features more than one enticing option including five- and three-course dessert tasting menus with cocktail pairings (alcoholic and non-alcoholic – now how awesome is that?!) as well as individual seasonal desserts prepared with local ingredients. These are also followed with recommended cocktails to compliment that specific dessert. Even though I was incredibly tempted to order the 5-course tasting menu with cocktails, I was too full from a previous meal, plus I was visiting on my own. Thus, I decided against a possible public embarrassment of getting drunk alone and opted for one dessert paired with a single cocktail instead. Per chef’s recommendation I ordered Cassis Plum, which appears to be Janice Wong’s signature dessert in Japan inspired by local spring flavors. I was promptly served my cocktail – peach flavored sake – which tasted great and instantly elevated my mood and served as a perfect relaxant after a long day of exploring. I continued to intently gawk at chefs as they assembled the dessert plates the same way an artist would draw a painting. Soon enough my Cassis Plum was ready and I was quite impressed with the visual presentation. Just look at this, you guys, how pretty does it look? This icy purple blackcurrant sphere was bedded on lightly flavored umeshu (plum liqueur) granite and further topped with umeshu jelly. The sour taste of the sphere was balanced out by the smooth and lightly sweet yogurt foam filling inside. Raspberry rice crispies in the bottom added beautiful texture while tartness of yuzu tapioca provided a beautiful background depth of flavor. Dessert certainly combined some complex flavor profiles with sweet, sour and tangy tastes creating flawless mélange. Being mildly sweet and incredibly refreshing, Cassis Plum would make a great summer dessert for the coming hot days in Tokyo. I would not classify it as one of the most sublime desserts I have had in Tokyo, but it certainly intrigued me enough to come back and try some other items on the menu.
Address: Newoman Ekisoto 2F, 4-1-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11 a.m. -11 p.m. daily