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Wednesday
Apr082009

Luxury Japanese-Influenced Desserts @ Luxee, Pho and Banh Mi @ An Choi

It's always been a bit of a struggle finding great dessert spots in NYC mostly because I have a certain sugar threshold and most dishes are way too sweet for me.  I guess it's for that reason that I've always had a soft spot for asian desserts - particularly japanese-influenced courses.  My desserts hitlist:

  • Kyotofu: Kyoto-style desserts, lots of innovative uses of tofu
  • Otto: fantastic gelatos and dessert concoctions from Batali's brainchild
  • The Redhead: get the caramelized banana nut bread if you want an instant gut-punch of nostalgia
  • Basta Pasta: a wicked molten chocolate volcano
  • Veniero's: a good italian dessert standby in the neighborhood
  • ChikaLicious Puddin'
  • John Dory: just try the treacle pudding and you'll understand (trust me)

This past weekend, I hit up Luxee in the LES, a spot that's been on my wishlist for a while and I have to say I would go back again and again. 

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Luxee (Japanese/French, Dessert)

The Decor: (6.5/10) 

I wasn't a big fan of the decor mostly because of the strangely depressing yellow lighting in a narrowish LES cafe but I did love the nice glass display up front showing off a strong line-up of desserts.

Interior Photo credit: Metromix

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The Food: (9.5/10)

The food on the other hand, was divine and most were incredibly cheap for the amount of time, care and ingeniuty involved.  When was the last time you ordered a dessert in a restaurant that blew your mind and cost less than $6?

Luxee describes itself as a seasonal, organic, natural and modern japanese/french-influenced dessert cafe with a heavy focus on the aesthetics and design of its dishes.  I'd say Chef Shirakawa's creations definitely live up to the concept. 

Banana Imperial: Sweet chocolate mousse, jasmine cream brulee, banana gelee, sauteed banana, whip cream, streusel ($6)

Quite a mouthful of ingredients but all the components really worked well together.  I loved the little leaf peeking out of the top of the dessert and the sauteed bananas were deliciously creamy and caramalized.  I'm a big fan of jasmine but would have thought that it wouldn't be a good match for such a banana-heavy dessert but surprisingly, it was really delicate and brought out a really different side to the bananas.

Mont Blanc: Marron concasse and marron paste, tomato-rose jam, vanilla cream, chocolate ($6)

This dessert was amazing!!  I've always had a thing for mont blanc cakes but this rendition was absurdly good.  There were so many flavors and textures going on in this dessert that it's hard to keep them all straight but somehow it all worked.  Crushed, candied chestnuts, creamy chestnut paste, a really crispy bottom layer and this delicious tomato-rose jam (though I didn't really taste the tomato much) that lent it a really florally afternote.  I'm still having daydreams about this dessert days after.

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More info and reviews:

Luxee: 6 Clinton Street, LES

FoodistColony Reviews

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An Choi (Vietnamese):

After dessert, we of course logically decided to grab some dinner at An Choi, a much-hyped Vietnamese restaurant in the LES.  It seems like recently, there's been a sudden wave of coverage on the once humble banh mi:

The Decor: (7.5/10)

I loved the feel of the dining room - it really does transport you out of NYC to a tiny roadside dining spot in SE Asia, naked lightbulbs and all.  The only gripe I had was that the stools weren't the most comfortable things in the world and it was quite cramped (but I suppose that adds to the ambiance?)

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The Food: (8.5/10)

 

Banh Mi Thit Heo Quay: Chinese Crispy Roasted Pigchunks of moist chinese roast pork belly and slivers of crispy skin ($8)

My mouth is watering just revisiting this delicious, delicious banh mi. Apologies for the terrible photos but it was exceedingly dark and I really wanted to dig in.  There are lots of great vietnamese places in NYC and a lot of them are way cheaper than the $8 price tag tacked onto this particular porky delight but there's definitely something to be said about quality ingredients and a deft hand in balancing all the particular elements of a sandwich.  Great bread, luscious pork and crispy skin from a chinatown butcher, cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon and crispy shrimp chips on the side make this a perfect end to a good day of fooding.

Pho Bo - Beef Noodle Soup: a hearty beef broth scented with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. served with rice noodles and brisket & eye round

Delicious, steaming pho in a rich beef broth - not spectacular but great comfort food

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More info and reviews:

An Choi - 85 Orchard Street

FoodistColony Reviews

An Choi on Urbanspoon

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