First things first: Starting Monday, Pig and the Lady is raising the dessert bar with new creations by Vintage Cave’s original pastry chef. Rachel Murai, the homegrown Nobu Waikiki alum hand-picked by former Cave chef Chris Kajioka “because she’s crazy. She’s the best,” joined the crew of the Pig last week. Her desserts will start appearing at the Chinatown resto this Monday at lunch and then every day at lunch and dinner.
That’s the first step in a broader vision to turn the Pig into a late-night dessert destination. Part 2 happens two to three months down the line, when a new pastry kitchen and dessert counter helmed by Murai are slated to debut. Expect ice cream and soft-serve machines, plus seating for maybe 15 people or more and takeout cookies and pastries, many of which will make their way to the Pig’s farmers’ market booths.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted,” Murai says, “something casual, where my friends or family can come in and hang out. At the Cave it was more like, I’ll meet you by the elevator. Here, even if I’m busy, everyone will be right here on the other side of the counter.”
Pig chef-owner Andrew Le says expanding desserts, which have been the domain of revolving sets of hands, including his own, has been a goal for a while. Desserts have ranged from sweet bread ice cream sandwiches with guava jelly to whatever Le dreams up, like paiai topped with chocolate pudding, lilikoi sorbet and shiso leaves. At the Cave, Murai was doing things like peppered beet air, grape and elderflower liqueur bubbles and something she called a truffle ice cream, which was smoked vanilla ice cream with an almond-olive oil crumble, salt flakes and shaved truffle. When Le called Murai to ask her about desserts, she was in Virginia for a few months. So he waited.
The result: sophisticated techniques delivered in the Pig’s homey, accessible style. Murai’s first two desserts will augment some of the Pig’s signature ones, like the avocado cake. Her first offering is chocolate cake, because she says customers always look for chocolate on a dessert menu: layers of Valrhona dark chocolate mousse, fresh lilikoi curd and Dutch cocoa cake soaked in chocolate liqueur, with fresh lilikoi pulp nestled in a long divot under a milk chocolate caramel tuille and a dollop of dulce de leche with cacao nibs on the side. After I took this pic, a P.S. of basil sponge caught Murai’s fancy, so expect that on the plate too.
Her second dessert is roasted coffee kabocha, made with pumpkin chunks roasted with Cafe du Monde coffee and chicory, crisp coffee meringue, candied hazelnuts, orange gelee and pomegranate on frangelico cream. “When the kabocha’s roasting, that coffee flavor comes out in the butter and it caramelizes a little bit,” she says. This one’s a creamy, deep, buttery, crunchy play on Thanksgiving candied yams. You can see that, can’t you?
The Pig & the Lady
83 N. King St.