Golden Plates 2022: Tasty Asian desserts get diners across the finish line

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      Who doesn’t love dessert? Here are picks from some of the city’s top Asian restaurants as chosen by Georgia Straight readers in the 25th annual Golden Plates edition.

      Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine

      Khaao Niaao Ma Muaang, Ice Cream Gathi, and Woon Gathi

      This year, one of the big winners in the Golden Plates Awards was Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine in Steveston. Not only did readers vote for its executive chef, Nutcha Phanthoupheng, as chef of the year for the second consecutive year, it also won as best overall, best fine dining, best Thai, most romantic, and best hidden gem.

      This month, Phanthoupheng created a new set menu with nine courses for a feast that lasts up to two hours. It’s entitled “A Journey from Pasture to Plate”. Like her first signature dinner experience, “A Journey Throughout the Kingdom of Thailand”, it features fresh hand-carved fruit as part of its finishing touch. It’s combined with luuk choop, which is similar to marzipan, though it’s made with agar-coated mung-bean paste.

      This follows the Khaao Niaao Ma Muaang, Ice Cream Gathi, and Woon Gathi dessert.

      “Sticky rice is a staple in Thai cooking, especially when making desserts,” the menu states. “Our coconut glutinous rice is made with fresh coconut, pressed on site at Baan Lao, and served with mango, coconut milk ice cream, and ‘woon gathi’, a coconut milk jelly.”

      Banana Leaf

      Fresh Mango Sticky Rice

      Rice is life to many people of Asian heritage across the world. The staple is typically consumed with meat, fish, or vegetable dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

      There are several varieties of rice, and one of these is glutinous rice, a versatile type that is used for both savoury dishes and dessert. Glutinous rice is sometimes called sticky rice or sweet rice. Compared to varieties typically consumed daily, this kind is considered special and is more expensive.

      For dessert, glutinous rice is often cooked in coconut milk, which gives it a more sticky consistency. It can also be ground into flour and used for pastries.

      Banana Leaf, which is the Golden Plates winner for best Malaysian/Indonesian, offers glutinous rice as a traditional Thai dessert, bathed in coconut milk and topped with fresh mango.

      Kulinarya Filipino Eatery

      Cassava cake

      Cassava cake is a hearty Filipino dessert that is also a popular snack item. Soft and chewy, this confection goes well with coffee, hot chocolate, and even pop.

      In its basic form, the cake is made of grated cassava root, coconut milk, shredded young coconut, and sugar.

      It is traditionally cooked in a clay pot lined with banana leaves—with hot charcoal at the bottom as well as on top—until golden brown and slightly toasted. Nowadays, though, many households both in and outside of the Philippines have the convenience of using stoves to do the job.

      As well, depending on a favourite recipe, other ingredients are added to the pudding, like eggs and condensed milk. And to make it even more heavenly, cassava cake can be topped with either grated cheese or leche flan, which is egg custard, a dessert on its own.

      Check it out at Kulinarya Filipino Eatery on Commercial Drive, one of this year’s Golden Plates winners.


      Green Tea Opera cake

      With its many different layers, opera cake is a French treat that offers multiple flavours in each slice.

      It’s known to be time-consuming to prepare. This applies to Minami’s version, the Green Tea Opera cake, its signature dessert. Pastry chefs take three days to put together this seven-layered cake. Its flavours are green tea, hazelnut, and chocolate.
      This long process has proven to be rewarding: diners at Minami swear by the decadent dessert, which surprises at every bite.

      Green Tea Opera cake can be ordered whole or by the half in the restaurant, and it is also available for takeout.

      Straight readers voted Minami as best Yaletown restaurant and third-best Japanese eatery.