“The Little One” is An Inventive Dessert Shop From Two Chinatown Locals

Photos courtesy of The Little One.

Photos courtesy of The Little One.

Now that summer is unofficially here, it’s about time you walked down East Broadway to check out The Little One, where some of the most interesting desserts on the Lower East Side are being prepared (and devoured).

Pastry chefs Eddie Zheng and Olivia Leung are Chinatown kids with some serious culinary credentials. They opened The Little One in December after stints at Wd~50, The Elm, Cafe Clover, La Sirena (him) and Dominique Ansel Bakery (her). The space at 150 East Broadway has just five tables. The stripped down, minimal spot is located right across the street from the newly expanded Malaysian cafe, Kopitiam, which will be reopening soon. 

Zheng and Leung are bringing their fine dining expertise and a dedication to sourcing high quality ingredients to The Little One. The inspiration for the cafe came during a trip to Japan, where they experienced traditional desserts with ingredients that are largely unknown in America. As Zheng told AM New York earlier this year, “We brought back some Japanese influences — the base of Japanese desserts — and put in our own culinary experiences.”

The menu is divided into three categories. On the left-hand side, you’ll find Dorayaki, a fluffy pancake traditionally stuffed with a red bean paste. At The Little One the fillings have been switched up. During our visit in late April, there was a pineapple filling, Zheng and Leung’s take on classic Taiwanese pineapple cakes. There were also versions with chocolate-coconut with red bean/matcha cream. 

DORAYAKI

buckwheat

In the center column, you’ll find a selection of ice cream sandwiches made with monaka (a crispy rice flour shell). Flavors include chrysanthemum, corn with toasted coconut and lime zest, white sesame, buckwheat with chocolate fudge and cashew. That last one — featuring extra virgin olive oil and Maldon sea salt — is part of a collaboration with Jesus Perea, the acclaimed former pastry chef at Cosme. 

On the right-hand column, The Little One offers kakigori, a kind-of Japanese shaved ice. Zheng referred to kakigori as a “no fuss dessert,” because it’s really meant to emphasize seasonal ingredients (strawberry, matcha, Hōjicha (Japanese green tea). There’s a purple horchata version, also part of the collaboration with Chef Perea. 

Zheng knows the neighborhood well. Both of his parents have businesses just up the block on East Broadway. He lives on Division Street. He’s well aware of the changes happening throughout Chinatown, East Broadway included.

The goal at The Little One, he said, is to create desserts rooted in tradition, that allow the chefs to elevate unusual and very high quality ingredients. Even though the initial concept has its foundation in Japan, they’re planning to expand the menu beyond traditional Asian flavors. (The kitchen now has an oven, which will open up a lot of possibilities).

The Little One is open during the week from 1-8 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s open noon-9 p.m. If you want to experience the collaboration with Jesus Perea, you only have a couple of days (it wraps up at the end of this month).

The little one -29

You Can Sample Japanese-Inspired Desserts at “The Little One” on East Broadway

24883331_166743273932593_7221663257800990365_o

A new dessert spot from a local husband-wife team with serious culinary credentials is starting to get noticed beyond the Lower East Side.

AM New York today profiles The Little One, a small bakery at 150 East Broadway, which debuted last month with a menu of traditional Japanese confections. It’s operated by Eddie Zheng and Olivia Leung:

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.”

Eater ran a feature on the dessert shop just before the new year:

The Little One’s nine-item menu currently reads entirely Japanese. One will find kakigori, Japanese shaved ice drizzled with hojicha (a type of roasted green tea) caramel and lime zest, plus a matcha rendition with white chocolate espuma. Dorayaki, a common Japanese dessert that resembles a mini pancake sandwich, comes filled with confit honeycrisp apples and mascarpone, or sweet potato cake and a spiced cream. Monaka — an unflavored rice wafer shell typically stuffed with red bean and/or ice cream — is filled here with soba-cha (toasted buckwheat) ice cream and chocolate fudge or parsnip ice cream with burned honey caramel.

The Little One also offers an interesting selection of teas and malted hot chocolate with cardamom. Zheng said The Little One should not be thought of as a Japanese bakery. In the future, they may offer cakes and tarts using non-Asian ingredients. Zheng and Leung are planning to install an oven in the space, which will allow them to offer new menu items.