Since opening in September, Cloud 10 Creamery has served as a platform for pastry chef Chris Leung to showcase his wizardry with frozen confections. Much has been written about Cloud 10's banana split, previously described here as "five star," but Leung offers an even more comprehensive opportunity to experience his cuisine with four ($48) and seven course ($68) dessert tastings.
Available to anyone with a week's notice, the tastings are a good reminder that Leung's talents extend far beyond ice cream. It's something I had known since I met him when he worked alongside Randy Rucker at Bootsie's, but the tasting helped cement why I'm so excited to see what Leung does at the upcoming Museum Park Cafe that's slated to open in May.
Available to anyone with a week's notice, the tastings are a good reminder that Leung's talents extend far beyond ice cream.
Leung contrasted the experience of his tasting menu with that of an unnamed, high-profile restaurant he dined at in another city. Calling the experience "robotic" and saying the food "lacked soul," his goal for Cloud 10's diners is something different. SLeung interacts with patrons from the moment they sit down by explaining each course and answering questions. While the courses are mostly set in advance, the experience can be personalized by moving a course around or changing one ice cream flavor for another.
Click through the pictures above for an in-depth description of each course, but the following highlights demonstrate the variety found in Leung's menu. Steel-cut oat porridge with a coconut milk crumble and Meyer lemon ice cream arrived third. Essentially, I think I could eat this version of oatmeal everyday for breakfast thanks to the sweet/tart balanced achieved by folding Meyer lemon into the porridge.
A savory course of cabbage braised in dashi, mirin and soy arrived fifth. Topped with peanuts and chimichurri, Leung said the course is designed to "shock your palate" back into being able to perceive flavors after so many sweet offerings.
Which was good, because the final two courses were among the tasting's best dishes. Leung spread sweet potato puree along a square plate then topped it with candied chestnuts, green tea macha curd, black sesame-chocolate ice cream and cafe sua da ice cream. Inspired by a Japanese New Year's speciality called Kurikinton, the crunchy chestnuts and mild potato balanced the ice cream's sweet creaminess. The tasting finished with a miso ganache-filled chocolate cake alongside vanilla bean ice cream and sesame seeds. Think of it as a riff on salted caramel desserts or a must-try for any serious chocoholic.
Leung says he's only selling one tasting menu every two weeks or so, and that's a shame. The opportunity to taste so many dessert-themed variations should appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. Sure, it's a bit of a splurge, but the quality of the experience justifies the price. Having tried seven courses and snacks, I'd recommend ordering the four course for all but the most devoted sweets lovers. I started to suffer from palate overload towards the end, although the savory course in the middle really helped.
Besides, there's always next time.