Chikalicious opened in July of 2003. Even though I was a bridge & tunnel guy (with many many Manhattan tickets as proof) until 04, this gem never made it onto the radar. Guess “blogs” wasn’t a hip word back then, and RSS reader didn’t become popular yet.
The day after September 11, NYC redemption came to me. Not only did Sake Decibel Bar remain exactly as it is (albeit with a different crowd), Chikalicious served as a beautiful prelude to barhopping in NYC. Hells yes I love visiting this city.
Dessert wasn’t on the agenda for this trip until a text from Eat Sip Chew lit up ze phone. Eat Sip Chew worked in the kitchen of Atlanta’s Bacchanalia (what a lovely word!) and clearly remembered Ms. Chika as the pastry chef. The fact that ESC has a slightly unhealthy obsession with Pacojets made Chikalicious a must visit.
This East Village dessert bar represents all that is wrong with the LA sweets scene: it opens late with alcohol license, only serves dessert, minuscule staff in the kitchen and doesn’t take reservations. Every aspect of their operation shouts “screw you” with a Japanese-Manhattan accent. The FOH gentleman with the bow-tow? Ms. Chikalicious’ hubs. That line in front? Kept in check by a lowly screen door. If you’re inpatient nut, you’ll go across the street to the pret-a-manger for the ready-made cupcakes. Peeling away the diminutive stature of this dessert bar, a Joel Robouchon-esque operation can be found; the sugar hounds sit around an open bar which “allows clients to follow the service, to watch the succession of dishes”.
The very moment I set foot into the crawl space, the shiny Pacojet screamed out: “Jessica”! It is not difficult to imagine East Sip Chew molesting that desktop ice cream wonder with her bare skin. But there was more important task at hand: to see Ms. Chikalicious do her “magic” in religious silence. Grant Achatz would be at peace with the tranquility of this pastry counter.
First, dessert amuse:
Vanila gelee, apricot sorbet. Exactly as is prescribed. The gelee is a bit offsetting paired to the apricot sorbet, but the sorbet, a product of Pacojet’s blades, has perfect consistency and resisting melting even after 5 rounds of camera shuttering.
His Dessert main:
I’ve been on a tart binge recently, tart at Tartine (SF), tart at Church & State, tart me everywhere. While the crust doesn’t match the buttery power house served at C&S, the near souffle like filling is tops. And really, you can’t not be happy staring at a plate of smirking smiley face.
Her Dessert main:
White Chocolate Mousse Eclair with Cantaloupe Sorbet, Honeydew Salad. The saturation of this photo was punched up to highlight near neon qualities of the ingredients. All natural colors. The white chocolate filling was beyond light and airy. Honeydew and cantaloupe usage were reflective of the late summer melon season (also encountered at Blue Hill). At the beginning of melon season, we churned cantaloupe sorbet using muskmelons. Without the addition of any alcohol, the cantaloupe sorbet found in between the eclair fingerlings shamed the stuff from home.
(L) Espresso Ganache, (R) Ginger-Cinammon Shortbread, (Rear) Coconut Marshmallows. The only downfall of Bistro LQ’s dessert degustation were the take-home lemon marshmallows. Not so here. The marshmallows were mild, with toasted coconuts. Espresso ganache showed just a trace of bitterness and doesn’t carry the extra chocolatiness of a truffle. Dig this. Shortbread… eeehhhnnnn..
Cost of dessert tasting: $14. The most amazing taste-per-dollar meal during the 3 day NY dining maelstrom. It behooves us to be reminded: Chikalicious pairs every dessert with a wine. Take that Providence.
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