A Bacon and Chocolate Bar, Sushi at Esashi, and Desserts at WD-50
The past Sunday, I went out to the city with one of my best friends, Seungmi for dinner. But we agreed to meet up in the late afternoon for the sake of an odd flavor combination for a chocolate bar: chocolate and bacon. Intriguing? It was to us. So we head down to SoHo to the Chicago-based, trendy chocolate shop, Vosges Haut Chocolat.
Once we stepped into this place, we were contemplating what we want to get. We did have the chocolate bar we wanted. I got the Mo Bar and Seungmi got herself the Calindia Bar ($7 each). But I can’t resist a cold glass of Bianca chocolate ($5).
The Bianca tasted a lot better cold than I had a few months ago hot. The lavender and vanilla is well balanced with the white chocolate and ice-cold milk. It was delicious but for $5, it left me desiring for a bit more than served.
Seungmi’s Calindia bar was tasty. It contained 65% chocolate, bits of dried plums, and walnuts. The cardamom imparted spicy, floral tones that contrasted the sweetness of the plums and slightly emphasized the bitter tones of the chocolate. You may think of it as a grown up version of the Chunky bar but spicier (not hot-spicy more like a warm curry-spicy, if that made any sense?) and tinier chunks of nuts and dried fruit.
As for my Mo Bar, which is the apple wood smoked bacon with 45% semi-sweet chocolate, tasted surprisingly delicious. The salty, smokiness of the bacon worked so well with the sweet, slightly caramel-like finished chocolate. I was hooked that I bought another bar. Yeah, I love pork in all of it’s glorious versatility from savory to sweet.
After savoring our chocolate, we walked over to Alphabet City (which is the East Village) to meet up with Ariel to have dinner at Esashi.
After talking out what we wanted to eat, Ariel was enthusastic on trying out the Tiger Eye, so we ordered two plates of that ($6.75 each) and a Maki Roll Set (Seungmi), Sushi Dinner (mine), and Beef negimaki (Ariel’s) for main courses, each were $10.95. As for beverages, Seungmi had a ginger ale ($2) and Ariel was curious with Japanese beer and ended up ordering one ($7.50).
His qualms with the beer was that it’s light (it looks like a pale ale) and it tastes like a Bud.
Moving onto the food. The typical miso soup (a bit better than the ones I’ve tasted so far but the tofu needs to be soft or silken; not firm like they always use) and salad.
I had a tiff with this salad. It has a bit of that creamy, gingery dressing which I don’t really enjoy but don’t really hate either. But what really killed my appetite and palate was the huge pool of soy sauce that these greens were swimming in. The salt (as much as I appreciate it) was too much for me to take that I was unconsciously playing my salad with my chopsticks, that I stopped doing as soon as Seungmi pointed that out.
When the appetizers arrived, the Tiger Eye, my food moods changed for this place.
The Tiger Eye is basically the squid stuffed with spicy salmon. It’s quite good actually – squid is cooked perfectly and it had a nice spicy kick from the sauce that coated this appetizer.
Then our main courses arrived…
Regardless to the fact that we had our own set, we ultimately shared our food since there’s plenty to go around. Ariel’s beef negimaki was really tasty due to the salty crust on the beef. Seungmi and my sushi and makis were above average than what I usually get from a typical Japanese sushi joint. The fish were fresher and were of a better grade.
After we were done with dinner, we walked over to Clinton Street for dessert. Why? Since it’s Seungmi’s birthday yesterday (July 2nd) I wanted to treat her for some awesome dessert that I’ve been hearing for years at WD-50.
Since it’s a Sunday night, there isn’t that many diners. I don’t mind it since we do have a bit more attention from the waiters and they are a bit more patient than what one would experience on a Friday or Saturday night. Anyways, we all discussed what should we have since going for the tasting menu route is a bit expensive and what Ariel said, “a bit self indulgent.” What we ended up doing is order four desserts a la carte ($11 each):
1. Soft Chocolate, Avocado, Licorice, Lime
2. Coconut mousse, cashew, cucumber, coriander
3. Yuzu, shortbread, spruce yogurt, pistachio
4. Local strawberries, pandan, popcorn sorbet
But before all of these desserts were served, they’ve brought out a large container of sesame flatbread. It’s pretty good.
Then out came all the desserts…
The soft chocolate dessert was delicious, to say the least. The large green drops of avocado enhances the soft, creamy ribbon of chocolate ganache, and imparting the subtle flavor of avocado. The lime and licorice were very subtle yet it gave off slightly bright flavors. I love it – it all just melts-in-your-mouth goodness.
The coconut mousse, cashew, cucumber, coriander dessert that is shown above is particularly interesting to photograph. It’s so architectural in ways that the spiral of the coriander-speckled tuile makes it so appealing for me to go crazy with photographing this darn dessert. Here’s more photos…
Besides being so engaging to the viewer, it tastes so wonderful. The long, creamy rope of coconut mousse, meets the crisp coriander tuile and crunchy cashews make it so texturally interesting. Creamy meets crunchy and crisp. The cucumber gave the dessert a tiny, distinctive refreshing breath of air, if you will, from the earthy flavors of the coconut and cashews. This is sublime.
This yuzu, shortbread dessert was also delicious. The bright, citrusy flavor that is the signature of the yuzu worked well with the buttery, crisp shortbread and the pistachios. The spruce yogurt wasn’t as astringent as I would thought it would be, since spruce is a technically a type of pine tree – it was very subtle.
This dessert above screams “SUMMER!,” due to the gorgeous, sweet, ripened strawberries that are in season. The popcorn sorbet was different to say the least. It’s very scrumptious but it’s so hard to describe it in words…you just have to try it. The pandan (another name for it is screwpine leaves) tasted almost minty.
And I almost forgotten…Seungmi’s birthday dessert.
It’s a passion fruit chocolate cake of sorts. It’s not cake in what you normally associate with cake but it’s more of a passion fruit cream/curd that is encrusted with chocolate and topped off with a brittle, unsweetened chocolate tuile. It’s tasty and it’s one of the better birthday desserts I’ve ever encountered.
All of these desserts were very ethereal. There’s lots of foam. The textures are so light but the flavors are so intense yet it lingers on the palate for such a brief time. I had a foodgasm from this particular dessert tastings, while Ariel has found his content, peaceful place.
When we asked for the check, they gave us a granite full of caraway raspberry cookies in tow.
I apologize for the blurry innards shot. It’s tasty and very different. The spicy caraway seeds meets with the sweet, tart raspberry jam was an interesting flavor combination.
Ariel was very kind to all of us by picking up the tab but then he lost his peaceful place and “thought of his job” because it left a small hole in his wallet.
Vosges Haut Chocolat
132 Spring St
New York, NY 10012