Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Shanghai] Chikalicious

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Chikalicious

Add: Shop 205a, Xintiandi, No.5, 123 Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu
Tel: 6333 9233
Hours: 11am-11pm (closed on Monday)
Price: [cake] 68 RMB [dessert set] 188 RMB (+10% service fee)
Visited: Jan 2016

Please note that this was an invited tasting.

My first time trying Chika’s desserts was 8 years ago in New York. I wasn’t a pastry chef back then but already had a serious sweet tooth, and I took the time to visit Chikalicious’ first (and only, at the time) shop at East Village just so I can try the famed 3-course dessert menu. When I heard that Chikalicious opened in Shanghai, I got curious – what would Chikalicious be like without Chika?

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Running the kitchen of Chikalicious Shanghai are two young pastry chefs of only 28 years old – Mauro from Argentina and Maya from Thailand (grew up in the U.S.) They both worked at Chikalicious New York before coming to Shanghai, but got there via very different paths. Mauro started in the kitchen during his teens, and made his way through quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants such as L’Arpège in Paris, Gordon Ramsay in London, and Nobu 57 in New York, as well as famed pastry shops like Gerard Mulot. Maya was originally an industrial designer, and it has been only a year since she officially started working in the kitchen, but her confidence and practiced gestures are not at all like a newbie. Before joining Chikalicious, she was previously at three Michelin starred Eleven Madison Park, where she spent some time both front of the house and in the kitchen.

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On another note, Maya personally wrote these “reserve” cards. Very pretty!

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The two chefs are not only partners in the kitchen, they are in fact a couple – and the two work seamlessly. The menu they had designed together has 5 “main course” choices, each come with an amuse bouche and petit fours (188 RMB for three courses). There is also optional wine pairing (+108 RMB for wine, +188 RMB for champagne).

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The dessert set started with an amuse bouche, which on the day of my visit was brown sugar panna cotta, pineapple sorbet, and lime agar agar. It looks like a simple plate, but these few bites were truly a surprise. Creamy texture from the brown sugar panna cotta, intense pineapple flavor from the sorbet, and refreshing notes from the lime…a most pleasant start.

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For my choice of dessert, I went with “Fromage Blanc Island Cheese Cake”, something I had tasted 8 years ago at the original Chikalicious, paired with a flute of Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve champagne. Creamy, velvety smooth, and not at all too sweet. This is not a complicated dessert, it is exactly designed to be savored for its purity in flavor and texture, though I personally prefer a bit more variety, perhaps by a sprinkle of crumble or something.

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While the cheese cake and the chocolate tart were brought over exactly as they are served at Chikalicious New York, and the other three options on the menu are creations by Mauro and Maya. I added an order of  “Fruit, Flower, and Herbs of Chef’s Choice” and expected a fruit platter, but what arrived in front of me was much more than that: caramelized pinepaple, pansies, brown sugar cream, Granny Smith slices and sorbet, Swiss chard, basil fluid gel, and Granny Smith consommé. It sounds perhaps a little crazy, but somehow all the flavors and textures came together harmoniously in one bite, like magic. This plate is perhaps too light on its own, but after the generously-portioned cheesecake that I just downed, this was perfect.

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Finally, there were the petit fours. Especially memorable was the coconut marshmallow, though I also quite liked the Santo Domingo chocolate-covered caramel almonds.

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Chikalicious has a first floor and a second floor, and all the plated desserts mentioned above are served only on the second floor starting at 3pm. On the first floor, which opens from 11am till 11pm, you can try the a la carte cake slices. There aren’t many choices at the moment, only a few crepe cakes and a chocolate cake to choose from.

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I first tried the “Vanilla Crepe Cake” (68 RMB), which consisted of 21 layers (I counted) of crepes sandwiching vanilla whipped cream. I especially liked how the first layer has been torched and caramelized for extra crunch.

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Chikalicious also has a Matcha Crepe Cake (68 RMB) made using green tea from Uji, Kyoto, and I personally liked this one even more than the vanilla version (and this one had 26 layers…I counted again). I heard they also sometimes make a nutella version…next time, next time.

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Other than crepe cakes, they also do a “chocolate ganache cake with coffee cream and hazelnuts” (68 RMB), composed to chocolate ganache cake, coffee cream, and hazelnuts. There is also a layer of paillete feuilletine (a kind of crunchy crisp, often used in French pastries) for extra texture. I really liked the cream on top, the coffee flavor was just right, and the texture ultra soft – probably piped to order.

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Lastly, everything from the utensils to the chairs at Chikalicious Shanghai are carefully selected. The plates are from Hermès, cups from Richard Brendon, cutleries from Cutipol, chairs from Sé London…plenty of details.

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Though cakes on the first floor are also delicious, I would go for the plated desserts on the second floor to see what Mauro and Maya truly have to offer. Don’t forget to reserve a seat at the bar if you love looking at chefs in action like I do. They change the menu seasonally according to available ingredients, and though there are still some kinks to be worked out as they have only been open for a month, I am looking forward to coming back and trying more of their creations.

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Written by sugarednspiced

January 26th, 2016 at 12:54 pm