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Eat and Drink

Japanese bakery The Little One serves elevated desserts in Chinatown

A new Chinatown bakery might encourage you to break your New Year’s resolutions.

At The Little One, which opened last month at 150 E. Broadway, husband-and-wife bakers Eddie Zheng and Olivia Leung put their spin on Japanese desserts.

The Chinatown natives attended the Institute of Culinary Education together, with Zheng, 25, going on to work at wd~50, The Elm, Café Clover and La Sirena, while Leung, 26, has worked with Dominique Ansel and at South Korean bakery Tous Les Jours.

The Little One was inspired by their travels through Asia.

“What we really liked about Asia is that they have a lot of different types of ingredients that we could play with,” Zheng said. “There’s not many people in New York that are introduced to it yet, other than going to a fine-dining restaurant.”

The couple was particularly inspired by the dedication to and quality of the desserts that they saw in Japan.

“We brought back some Japanese influences — the base of Japanese desserts — and put in our own culinary experiences,” Zheng said of the menu at The Little One. “We still keep the roots of the Japanese desserts.”

The Little One currently specializes in three types of sweets: dorayaki, monaka ice cream sandwiches and shaved ice.

The 18-seat spot also serves cold brew hojicha, spiced apple ginger tea, matcha lattes and malted hot chocolate. 

Once the space gets an oven, the couple plans to add more items to the menu, like tarts and cakes. 

Zheng walked us through The Little One’s menu:

Dorayaki

Apple Dorayaki with apple confit and mascarpone cream
Photo Credit: The Little One

Typically, dorayaki — a honey pancake with a red bean paste or chestnut filling — is sold packaged and is not made fresh to order, Zheng said. At The Little One, you can get the griddled pancake filled with Honeycrisp apple confit and mascarpone cream (pictured); sweet potato and whipped cream; or matcha cream with brûléed bananas, for $4.50 or $4.75. Recently, the bakery has been selling out of its dorayaki, Zheng said, so get it while you can. 

Monaka ice cream sandwiches

Corn monaka ice cream sandwich with toasted coconut
Photo Credit: The Little One

Monaka is a crispy wafer shell made from mochi, a rice flour, which is usually filled with a red bean paste or other savory ingredient, Zheng said. At The Little One, they transformed it into an ice cream sandwich. The menu options include buckwheat ice cream with chocolate fudge, for “East meets West,” Zheng said; corn ice cream with toasted coconut and lime zest (pictured); and parsnip ice cream with burnt honey caramel and a chocolate shell, for $5.50 each. The latter flavor is where his restaurant experience shows, Zheng said. “People don’t usually see savory items as an ice cream,” he said. “We want people to try new things.”

Shaved ice

Hojicha shave ice with hojicha caramel, whipped cream
Photo Credit: The Little One

Shaved ice is “all over New York City,” Zheng said. What differentiates theirs from, say, Taiwanese, is the texture; their machine flakes the ice, so it’s not creamy. “It’s melt in your mouth, but you still get that ice texture every time you take a bite,” Zheng said. Flavors include their bestselling matcha, drizzled with a white chocolate espuma (“We’re trying to dress up the shaved ice more than usual”); hojicha (pictured); grapefruit; and the seasonal coconut, topped with white snowflakes, for $6.50 or $7. 

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