A Whimsical Pop-Up Dessert Bar Launches in Chinatown

Tonari's seven-seat sweets and cocktail tasting dishes up Japanese-Italian treats.

Photograph courtesy of Vina Sananikone.

Tonari chefs Katsuya Fukushima and Mary Mendoza, who specializes in sweets, are launching an intimate, five-course “dessert bar” inside the Japanese-Italian restaurant on Friday, November 18. Named for the lauded wafu spot Kabe no Ana in Tokyo (translation: “Hole in the Wall”), the Chinatown counter serves just seven guests who are treated to a variety of desserts prepared in front of them.

According to Mendoza, the mastermind behind Bantam King’s viral fried chicken and doffle, the menu is inspired by  cozy New York City dessert bar Chikalicious. Mendoza worked as a pastry cook in some of DC’s top kitchens, including Centrolina, and says this tasting provides an exciting challenge.  “With the dessert tasting, you get to cover a lot more areas,” she says. “You’re not focused on one type of baking. You’re not just doing chocolate, you’re not just doing bread. You have the opportunity to do a little bit from all areas.”

The menu includes everything from rice pudding topped with caviar to piña coladas served with a rum gelée. Sweets are matched with three unique beverage pairings like matcha tea and Japanese beer topped with sake foam, or a riff on a minty grasshopper served with Italian amaro. Half bottles of Champagne will also be available as beverage supplements. Other items include kakigōri (Japanese-style shaved ice), petit fours, and a parting gift served in a golden takeout box.

The menu will run on Fridays and Saturdays with seatings available from 6 to 10 PM. Reservations cost $55 and can be booked through OpenTable. A lactose-free menu is also available upon request.

Peter Njoroge
Editorial Fellow