Nobody knows presentation like a Japanese chef. And Pastry Chef Manabu Inoue knows how to elicit a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" from any table at Morimoto in Chelsea. His desserts regularly inspire gratitude on the part of the diner at their very delivery. They also function to transition diners authentically from savory to sweet (even when Western-inspired riffs on cheesecake and sundaes make appearances) by adhering to the Japanese philosophy so evident at Chef Masaharu Morimoto's eponymous establishments: each component in the dining experience is a gift presented by the host to the guest.
Inoue’s Salty Caramel Ganache, Chocolate Sable, Cacao Nib Tuile, Dark Chocolate Sorbet, and Dark Chocolate Globe could be mistaken for a jewelry box. Like a candy bar fit for a penthouse (gold leaf “wrapper” included), the dish layers crunchy, smooth, and chewy textures into an architectural celebration of chocolate—informed by Inoue's globe-trotting pastry background and a confessed chocolate obsession.
To house the dessert, Inoue fashions a chocolate shell—a visual cross between a birdcage and a disco ball—by tempering chocolate and pouring it into a spherical mold. After the chocolate hardens, he uses tools to push holes of various sizes through the (extremely) delicate chocolate shell. He then fastens one half of the globe to the plate using a little tempered chocolate and cold spray. After resting his multi-tiered sweet gently (very gently) inside the shell, he (holding his breath) affixes the two hemispheres of the globe together.
The technique requires patience and precision, and a temperament for chocolate. As Inoue says, his biggest problem working with chocolate is struggling to maintain cool temperatures in a busy kitchen. His tip is to work during the early hours of the morning in the unobstructed quiet and uninterrupted cool of a kitchen at rest. Though the labor involved is considerable, Inoue’s sculpted edible gift never fails to turn heads in the dining room.