From the beautiful designs of her pastries to the modern decor of her establishment, Eunji Lee has curated a creative museum of pastries situated in the heart of the Flatiron District. Lysée (Leezay) offers a unique experience dedicated to the art of pastry. While learning about Eunji Lee’s background and work ethic as a Korean woman who dreamed of pursuing pastry school in France, I found that I resonated with her story, being part Korean and also an aspiring pastry chef. I knew that I had to check out the space as soon as possible.
I was eager to try everything that Lysée offers, but I knew that my budget would only allow two to three desserts. They are above any ordinary price: their most expensive single serving dessert, the “Corn,” costs $18. The “Corn” is one of their most popular dessert items, consisting of a corn mousse cake with corn mousse, sablé (a type of French cookie that is similar to shortbread), and grilled corn cream. The flavors of the corn and mousse blended well together, although I would never have expected to try anything like it. Although the dessert was too soft and sweet for my liking, just the precision of the piping details and the clear effort put into making a dessert look like corn, as well as the use of an unusual dessert flavor, corn, blew me away.
Next, I tried the classic Lysée. Priced at $17, the house speciality features a signature mousse cake filled with Korean toasted brown rice mousse with caramel, a pecan sablé, and praliné. The crunchy bite and sweetness balance of this dessert definitely suited my taste better. I am not able to handle eating sweet things that do not have a firm enough texture to them. As you can see in the picture here, this dessert is beyond beatiful. To produce around one hundred or more of these cakes everyday is astonishing. With the mousse being a soft cream that melts so easily, it takes incredible technical skills and diligence to get it to envelope the whole cake like that, as well as to add more detail to it. It is truly impressive for a pastry team to have the skills, precision, and work ethic to create several hundred every week. If anything, I believe that for the amount of skill that it takes to produce one cake alone, on top of the premium ingredients that go into it, this cake is worth more than $17.
This past year, I had the opportunity to work as a pastry line cook for a luxury five-star hotel. Being a line cook meant that I had to ensemble and plate intricate and delicate desserts to order as fast as possible. On busy nights, which were most nights, I had put my sweat and tears into putting those desserts together. With the little pastry experience that I had prior to this, learning in a kitchen with some of the most experienced pastry chefs was difficult enough to say the least. Using such high quality and expensive ingredients, as well as limited time, creates an incredibly small margin for error. To create the immaculately detailed desserts found in Lyseé takes immense skill, dedication, and extreme care for detail that a lot of people do not have, not to mention the grueling conditions these pastry chefs endure just to prove their skillset. Although the desserts at Lyseé may be on the pricey side, from my experience and knowledge of pastry, the prices are reasonable if you appreciatethe expense of high quality ingredients, the skills of the pastry team behind it, and the unique artistic experience Lyseé offers.