There are certain desserts that some pastry chefs fall back on at a typical modern Asian restaurant. We all know them: the lychee sorbets, tropical fruit tarts, and matcha cheesecakes of the world. If I never see another chocolate spring roll it will still be far too soon.
There are usually two pitfalls for such dessert menus. If you’re lucky, you might find a few watered-down versions of more traditional desserts, the chef likely hoping to temper some of the flavor profiles some diners may be unfamiliar with, like mung bean, anko (red bean paste), ube (purple yams), and the like. Otherwise you’re likely to see desserts that incorporate Asian flavors pushed through the sieve of French technique, a formula that seems to be used as an excuse to not innovate further.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Enter Zen Ong, the head pastry chef of LA’s modern Asian hotspotE.P. & L.P., who is turning out finessed desserts that are as carefully thought-out, unique, and delicious as their savory counterparts by chef Louis Tikaram.