There’s generally a moment of pause when a ribbon-tied Jin gift box is presented for the first time: It somehow seems brutish to dig into Kristy Choo’s elegant confections. Should they just be shellacked and put on a mantel? Nah. Her whimsically adorned green tea cake (green tea bavarois with a heart of red bean paste rising from green tea sponge) is, like her Oriental, a cocoa-sprinkled assembly of chocolate mousse, coconut cream, praline paste, and roasted almonds, conceived with immediate extinction in mind. Grab a bag of sesame seed-trilled chocolate bark, wafer thin, before you go.
Best Afternoon Tea, September 2009
The pebble fountain flanked by succulents that gurgles in the courtyard; the piped-in New Age music that blocks out traffic on Abbot Kinney: We always achieve a Zen-like state when entering Jin Patisserie
. Proprietor Kristy Choo’s afternoon tea showcases her pastry shop’s homemade chocolates and exquisite desserts (mascarpone, passion fruit, and fresh mango—and that’s just in one little cake), arranged on chic white square plates. Teas from the French teahouse Theodor are listed in a booklet that contains more than you’d ever want to know about the beverage’s aroma (ask the staff what’s popular with patrons). Locals crowd the place on weekends, and they don’t dress up.
Best Chocolates, April 2004
L.A. has a hefty showing in the homegrown gourmet chocolates category. Bodega has a swell selection and is conveniently placed in the Grove, Intemperantia in the Palisades has a following, and See’s is a staple rather than an indulgence for those of us who are carefree—or uncontrollable—when it comes to sugar and cholesterol. (For more responsible imbibers, Comparte’s in Brentwood makes a tasty low-cholesterol assortment of chocolates.) But our favorite box of chocolates comes from Kristy Choo, an award-winning pastry chef from Singapore. Choo opened the Asian-inspired Jin Patisserie
in Venice, and alongside her coffees, fine teas, and sophisticated sweets she sells an assortment of chocolates unlike any others we’ve tried. Made by hand in the back of the small shop (visitors sit in the garden), the diminutive square confections, covered in dark and milk chocolate, are filled with creamy ganache that has been delicately flavored with the likes of jasmine, lotus, ginger, mango, and kalamansi (an Asian lime); lemongrass, litchi, roasted black sesame, and passion fruit. Choo’s shop was one of the first in the United States to sell the fancy Le Palais des Thé line and uses essences of its teas in her chocolates as well. Handpick your selection and have it packed in a box, which can also be fashioned from chocolate.