I love the concept of a dessert bar and I am actually surprised that no one thought of opening one in Shanghai sooner. Originally from New York, Chikalicious (123 Xingye Lu; 兴业路123弄5号) is a two-story dessert bar. The first floor takes walk-ins and has a small selection of desserts, including crêpe cakes and seasonal desserts. However, the real magic happens on the 2nd floor where you can experience the 3-course dessert tasting menu (188 RMB + 10% service charge).
Chef Maya and Chef Mauro are constantly changing the menu based on seasonal produce and you have to appreciate their creativity. On our visit, our meal started with a lemonade sorbet accompanied by honey thyme gelée. With the over 100 degree weather in Shanghai, this was perfect starter to cool us down.
For our main courses, I ordered the NY-famed fromage blanc island “cheese cake.” This is probably the most ordered dessert at Chikalicious and often sells out every day. Served in a dish of crushed ice, this island cake is a cross between a foam and a mousse. It’s incredibly delicate and light with a very subtle cheese taste. It’s a very pure dessert and I like the hints of vanilla bean spread throughout the cake. My friend ordered the Japanese honeydew two ways. Compressed honeydew with mint was served with lemon foam, mint agar agar and melon sorbet. All the desserts are very light and are meant to highlight the natural ingredients. The honeydew flavor was bright and I loved the lemon foam. Eating the melon sorbet tasted like you were biting a piece of fresh melon. With each main dessert, Chikalicious recommends a wine/champagne tasting, which helps elevate the whole experience.
Our petit fours included coconut marshmallows, pistachio biscotti and strawberry cake. My favorite was definitely the coconut marshmallow, which had a foam-like consistency and melted in my mouth. While upstairs does have table seating, I actually recommend reserving a spot at the bar. You get to watch all the dessert chefs in actions and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. If you’re lucky, you may even have a chance to strike up a conversation with Chef Maya or Chef Mauro. Chef Maya was incredibly sweet, smiley and talkative. She could sense our enthusiasm for her desserts and gifted us a mini yogurt panna cotta. We were so excited because, earlier, my friend had a hard time deciding between the panna cotta and the honeydew dessert. The yogurt panna cotta is served with fresh peach sorbet (that pink is the natural color!), peach slice, dill agar agar and caramelized almonds. I really appreciated the crunch of the almonds and different textures in this dessert. The panna cotta was smooth, creamy with a nice sourness. The flavor from the peach was so intense and sweet.
Reservations for upstairs is an absolute must and they’re open from 2:00pm-9:00pm (Wednesday-Sunday). If you can’t get a table upstairs, you can always sample the desserts from the café downstairs, which is open from 11am-11pm daily. On a separate visit, I sampled the seasonal Japanese yuzu cake at the café. This was literally one of the best pieces of cake that I’ve ever had. A layer of white cake is topped with yuzu cream filling, fresh whipped cream and pistachios. It was incredibly light and airy and full of citrus flavor, reminiscent of eating lemon curd. While we were talking to Chef Maya, she mentioned that they’re already making the next cake to replace the Japanese yuzu one. It’s good to know that anytime you go to Chikalicious, you’re bound to try something new and exciting.