Cha-An Japanese Tea House, 茶庵, in NYC – Black Sesame Crème Brûlée, Best Dessert Ever

Cha-An Japanese Tea House, 茶庵, is this little place in the East Village whose mission is to allow the customers to “Leave cares behind, enjoy this moment.” My experience was exactly that. Their Black Sesame Crème Brûlée is the best dessert I have ever had in the past few years. The pleasure it delivers, the combination of the texture, the sensation of the ice cream eaten together with the crème brûlée – I felt almost speechless the first time I tried it.  All I could say was, “It is soooo good.”

Black Sesame Crème Brûlée: The black sesame crisp on top was both sweet and crunchy. The black sesame ice cream was in the middle and if you dig in deeper, the soft crème brûlée was at the bottom. I used a spoon to scoop up both the ice cream and the crème brûlée; together they made a symphony in my mouth, alternating a scoop of ice cream/crème brûlée with a bite of the crisp. So good. So hard to describe how it made me feel, other than pure happiness and enjoyment.

This is the Homemade Mochi, 麻糬. From left to right: Black Sesame, Green Tea and Earl Grey Chocolate. The level of deliciousness is in the same order of the picture, from high to low: Black Sesame, Green Tea and Earl Grey Chocolate. The chocolate was not very special but the black sesame was dense and yum.  See my prior post on Taiwanese Mochi, click here.

This is the Pu-Erh Tea, 普洱茶. This is a fermented tea from the Yunnan province in China. Two of my favorite teas are both fermented: Pu-Erh and Black, 普洱茶和紅茶。 It was nice but was completely outshone by the desserts.

This is the Hojicha, the Japanese Green tea.

Note: Cha-An doesn’t take reservations and is always full. The wait is extremely long the twice I was there. Once you are seated, you are elbow to elbow with the other customers and they sometimes stare at you without shame and eavesdrop on every word of your conversation. When you go, be prepared to stare back and even wink back at the fellow eaters when necessary. Most importantly, be patient! It is worth the wait.

Lastly, A heart-felt thank you to my friend who introduced me to the outstanding Black Sesame Crème Brûlée and the various attempts to get me there.

This experience took place at

Cha-An Japanese Tea House 茶庵
230 E 9th St
2nd Fl
New York, NY 10079
Neighborhood: East Village
(212) 228-8030

Morello’s Dessert in Greenwich CT – Take Two on Oyster Night

When E and I finished our dinner at the Elm Street Oyster House, we decided to take a walk in the heart of Greenwich, CT for dessert. We came upon Morello Italian Bistro on Greenwich Ave. We were thinking – you know, Italians are good with dessert. Why not?  We were a little surprised. #flourlesschocolatecake #bomboloni

Bomboloni: Here is the menu description, “fresh-risen doughnuts, vanilla pastry cream, dark chocolate sauce.” Apparently this is their most popular dessert. Looks like mini donuts with cream inside. We poured the “NOT DARK” chocolate sauce over the bomboloni. We were both half expecting something great but it was not. It tasted like bread you could make with a bread machine. It tasted like sourdough. There was too little vanilla cream in the middle to overcome those deficiencies. The cream also tasted artificial.

One of my favorite dessert is the flourless chocolate cake. So I ordered, Torta al Cioccolato. Here is the menu description, ” flourless chocolate cake, rum caramel, candied walnuts, banana gelato.” It was acceptable.  It was not the typical flourless chocolate cake. It was fluffy like a brownie! But I wanted the butter and the egg experience.  Not a great one for me.  The positive is that the walnuts and the gelato were excellent. I think I would have enjoyed it better if they did not state that this is a flourless chocolate cake.

Upside: The coffee was nicely roasted, dark and dreamy. The nice waitress/bar tender took the Bomboloni off our bill since she knew we were not a fan. I guess I could give them another try.

We ended our night with silly laughter and stories from our past and present. When the company is this good, it does not matter where you eat your dessert!

This experience took place at

Morello Italian Bistro
253 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
TEL: 203.661.3443

Mochi or môa-chî, 麻糬, in Taiwanese

This mochi was hand-made by this elderly gentleman who must have been in his 70s. He has a cart near the Technology Building MRT station in the Daan District in Taipei. He was making mochi right there and seasoned it with peanut crumbs. It was chewy in a good way and fresh like it just came out of a rice cooker. The texture is one that is glutinous and favored by many Asians. You know what I am talking about? Yum. I am instantly transported back to that nice sensation.