The Japanese restaurant Tetsu, located at 78 Leonard Street in New York City, has tried to expand the horizons of this particular cuisine since first opening their doors. One aspect of their particular style has been their intense focus in the area of grilling, which has led to some unique concoctions along the way through the use of robatas.
One of their latest creations branches out into an area that ordinarily doesn’t have a strong connection to grilling: deserts. The particular delicacy in question is olive-oil cake, something that actually has roots in the Mediterranean, not the Far East. Yet the Japanese touch helps take this dessert into a new stratosphere.
Tetsu’s pastry chef Matthew O’Haver was first given the task by the restaurant’s owner Masa Takayama of trying to break the mold of what diners might expect. Some early attempts were seemingly geared more towards appeasing Takayama, yet didn’t meet his standards. That led to the owner taking any perceived shackles off of O’Haver and letting his natural creativity flow.
The end result, like many of O’Haver’s past creations, has a heavy sampling of both alcohol and salt. The cake has a distinct scent of yuzu sake, though it’s barely detectable and doesn’t take away from the overall taste. Once the cake has been finished, slices are then toasted, with mascarpone cream also a part of this mix. The end is a delightful convergence of sweet and salty that continues to get the attention of diners.
The price of this specific component of Tetsu’s menu is $12. That menu is dotted with casual fare that Takayama wanted to offer after years of offering more formal dining options. Fine-tuning this concept is something that took close to five years, with the restaurant finally making a grand entrance in late 2017.