The Dessert Kitchen
3/F Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sunday to Friday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Saturday)*
(SPOT.ph) Afternoons have become a cinch to plan: a few spare hours, a book (or a tablet) in one hand, and a cool dessert in another. Of course, those afternoons will be spent at The Dessert Kitchen.
The Dessert Kitchen is by young culinary creatives Brian Lam and Dominic Li. It originated in Hong Kong, but now has over 20 branches around the world—including New York. In Manila, it was brought over by HTCG, whose repertoire already includes Lugang Cafe and Tuan Tuan.
Two things stand out about The Dessert Kitchen. One, desserts. Two, healthy desserts. Dominic tells us that because of the ingredients they use, their creations have only nine to 10 percent fat content, which is a third of the average. Some of the fruits are imported, but most of the components are made in-house.
Wider dining space
The Dessert Kitchen has about every kind of dessert you can think of—and then some. They have a collection of ice cream- or yogurt-based desserts (both are low fat options), like parfaits and sundaes; exciting Taiwanese shaved ice, fruity puddings; jellies; tofu-based confections; dessert soups, and more. Yes, in case you're wondering, there’s a variation of mango sago, too—cream, with bits of pomelo.
The flavors are light but pronounced, which makes using premium ingredients all the more imperative. Dominic refuses to alter their recipes to fit the sweet-loving Filipino palate. For him, it takes away the focus of The Dessert Kitchen, which is to give something subtle but not cloying. "Something you can have over and over again," says HTCG's Annabelle Chua.
Taste of Uji (P188): green tea syrup, mini rice balls, red bean, warabimochi
Purple in Love
This is indeed the case with the award-winning Purple in Love (P258). You don't often see grape used in a dessert, but it definitely steals the show in this unconventionally beautiful setup. The Purple in Love is essentially a monument of grape-flavored shaved ice topped with rice balls, grapes, taro mochi ice cream, and—get this—Kyoho grape seaweed balls. The seaweed balls, which look like purple fish roe, feel like popping boba in your mouth, but with a slightly salty finish.
Annabelle tells us that The Dessert Kitchen is about refining desserts, and that sophistication is definitely conveyed in the Sakura Warabi (P168). It’s not a dish that you can blindly dive into or even just stir together. You have to think about the layout: a sakura-flavored jelly dome at the center, flanked by brown sugar paste, red beans, sakura mochi, and soy bean powder. This deconstructed version of Japan’s anmitsu is akin to a band that works better producing music as a group. The kanten or jelly takes well to the variations of sweetness from the other elements.
The Dessert Kitchen also takes that kanten, slices them into noodles, and serves them with fruit or other toppings of you choice. Voila, dessert ramen (P198).
Mango jelly with almond soup
A combo with pistachio soup
Black Glutinous Rice with Coconut Milk
Desserts could also be mixed and matched into sets. There’s one combo where you can enjoy a simple dessert roll with sweet soups, like an exquisitely accurate Pistachio (P268), a delicate Almond (P188), or a nuttier Peanut (P188). Hot is the way to go should you take this route. The Black Glutinous Rice with Coconut Milk (P128) is A+ if you’re into more traditional Chinese desserts. It’s not too far from our very own ginataan or champorado.
Any adjustment The Dessert Kitchen had to make is only as far as to develop some Hong Kong-style egg waffles, the only savory part of the menu. Get past the first pages of mouthwatering desserts, and you’ll find a pleasantly salty surprise. The eggettes are perfectly made—crisp yet airy at the same time. For the Japadog (P258), they flavor the waffle with garlic and use a Japanese sausage that’s just bursting with flavor. Caramelized onions, honey mustard, and teriyaki mayonnaise are thrown in with such restraint that there’s only a very faint brush of sweetness. We could actually skip dessert for this wonder snack.
Dessert. At a point where Manila is practically going overboard with their ice cream smorgasbords, here’s one player that’s refreshingly keeping it together. Sometimes, subtlety has the loudest impact.
The Dessert Kitchen opens on February 4.