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Fall Desserts with an Asian Twist

Imperial Lamian is treating Windy City diners to a taste of Asian sweets

Lunar Blosom

Lunar Blossom

There is no better time for dessert than fall. As the weather gets cooler, people simply begin to treat themselves more and more. Maybe it’s excitement over Halloween’s arrival or the impending holiday season, but whatever the reason, now is the time for a sweet treat. And for those who are looking for something different than the standard chocolate cake, Chicago foodies can now have a taste of Asia.

Imperial Lamian {6 West Hubbard Street, Chicago; 312.595.9440} opened with fanfare in River North thanks to their accessible and delicious Asian cuisine. With so many savory options on the menu, Imperial Lamian also features a variety of sweets, sure satisfy those with a palate for pastries.

Owner Vincent Lawrence believes that Imperial Lamian has always been about bringing authentic Chinese dishes to Chicago and these desserts are no exception. The extensive after-dinner menu highlights the best of the Chinese culture, creating a pleasant surprise for guests.

Imperial Lamian

DO: How did you come up with the dessert menu?

Vincent Lawrence: At Imperial Lamian, we try to keep it original and authentic by using Asian ingredients in our dishes, including in our decedent desserts. We combined those Asian ingredients with the most commonly used ingredients for desserts (i.e. chocolate, pastries, gelato, etc.) to make the these desserts authentically-inspired, highlighting the best of Chinese culture and creating unexpected flavor combinations.

For those who are less adventurous eaters, what is a good entry dessert to try first?

I would suggest the Golden sesame Sesame Ball; it has a texture almost like donuts, however we fill it with red lotus paste and we sprinkle the exterior with sesame seeds for added flavor. It is a surprising combination of unique flavors.

Sesame Balls

Golden Sesame Balls

Which is your personal favorite?

If I have to pick one (which is difficult!), I would definitely go for the Salted Egg Bun. This is the dish we recently featured at Chicago Gourmet and it was a hit!

What are some dessert wines or cocktails to pair these with?

We have amazing port and tawny wines that pair well with our ginger molasses cake, or wide selection of white wines, like the Riesling, that pairs well with our Salted Egg Bun.

Will your menu change with the season?

Our dessert program is very young, so we would like to understand guests’ feedback first to gauge our next steps.

Egg Tart and Bu Lao Dan Gao

Egg Tart and Bu Lao Dan Gao

Lawrence also provided simple tips for making your own Asian-influenced desserts …

  • Use some specific Chinese ingredients like salted duck egg vs regular egg mixed with some milk and vanilla bean.
  • Use cloves and fresh cut ginger for items like the Ginger Molasses Cake.
  • Red lotus seed paste and sesame seeds are used for the Golden Sesame Ball, providing the right combination of flavors for this authentic dessert.
  • Most of Chinese desserts are steamed, however there are some that are baked like Imperial Lamian’s Chinese Egg Tart.
Lunar Blossom

Lunar Blossom

Here is the full lineup of desserts at Imperial Lamian:
  • Salted Egg Bao—steamed molten egg custard bun
  • Egg Tart—baked pastry crust and egg custard
  • Shengjiang Dan Gao—molasses ginger cake, vanilla bean gelato, and a cocoa shell
  • Golden Sesame Ball—red lotus seed paste
  • Bulou Dan Gao—pineapple cake and artisan coconut gelato
  • Gelato and Sorbet—vanilla bean, coconut, green tea, and raspberry sorbet

Interview by Kaleigh Glaza, Online Editor