Pastry Chef Jesse Divine has been with Roka Akor for four years now and he opened the Chicago location in 2011. Divine says that he was set on becoming a pastry chef as soon as he started attending cooking school at 13. I’m so glad he did – his style of desserts at Roka Akor is light, featuring tropical fruits and Asian ingredients like green tea. In fact, these desserts are so light and refreshing that I don’t feel guilty about indulging in a big dessert platter on Chicago’s first warm summer day to kick off the month of May.
If you can’t settle on just one dessert to order, I highly recommend the dessert platter, which features several of Chef Divine’s signature desserts. He might even throw in something he’s working on that’s not on the menu. The platter is $15 per person and allows guests to try a selection of sorbets, ice cream, cakes, custard and more. Plus, the platter is decorated with a variety of fresh fruit. I had a chance to try fresh jackfruit for the first time, along with mangosteen, watermelon and Asian pear. Jackfruit tastes a little bit like bubblegum and banana and is totally delicious.
My favorite dessert of all was the fresh mango and vanilla cake with toasted rice ice cream, topped with crunchy arare rice that reminded me of Rice Krispies. I loved the high ratio of mango mousse to cake, and the vanilla chiffon cake was perfectly light and spongy.
Chef Divine also works wonders with his Pacojet ice cream maker, with a rotation of housemade ice creams and sorbets on the menu. I had a chance to try seven different flavors, but I think the jasmine green tea ice cream and guava mint sorbet were my favorites. With the green tea especially, Chef Divine nailed the subtlety of the flavor.
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