Delightful is too mild a word to describe 12/10’s daytime dessert omakase. The modern Japanese restaurant (which is a certified Nolisoli staff pick, by the way) recently launched daytime operations through a five-course omakase consisting of delectable sweets.
12/10 has been a popular pick for special dinners since they only used to operate in the evenings, but the daytime menu shows an equally delicious and playful side to the restaurant.
“[Our daytime omakase menu] is something we decided to have fun with,” says Gab Bustos, 12/10’s chef and co-proprietor. He and the 12/10 team developed the idea of a daytime omakase as a way to exercise their creativity while also playing around with the application of the ingredients they used for their evening omakase.
And trust us, it’s genuinely a lot of fun.
You can never have too much coffee
Alongside the daytime menu, the restaurant has also launched their very own espresso bar that showcases its ingenuity with drinks. The espresso bar boasts 20 different coffee-infused drinks, ranging from the classic espressos and lattes, adventurous fruit-related options, to of course, a couple of drinks with an alcoholic kick.
All of the coffee is made with 12/10’s signature bean blend from Lucky Roasters, which is 60 percent medium roast, natural arabica from Sumatra, and 40 percent medium roast natural heirloom beans from the Sheka Zone in Ethiopia.
A few interesting items from the espresso bar are the cereal sweet cream with sea salt, the vitamin C, and the espresso martini. The cereal sweet cream with sea salt is a latte with bits of cereal sprinkled on top. It’s reminiscent of the cereal milk fad that overtook the food scene in the mid 2010s. 12/10’s version is more refined, using quality creams and milk, as well as their signature bean blend.
This drink also happens to be our photographer and videographer, Samantha Ong’s, favorite.
Coffee and oranges is a pairing that’s not all that common, but probably should be. The restaurant’s vitamin C is a straightforward mix of espresso and orange juice that’ll surely energize even the sleepiest of people. Orange juice isn’t the only fruit and coffee combo on the menu, though.
The espresso bar has another other coffee and fruit creation: the nut hugger. The nut hugger is made with oat milk, lime, and orgeat—a sweet syrup often made from a blend of rosewater or orange-infused water and a mixture of almond and barley.
For people who want to get their coffee with a little kick, the espresso martini is a classic you can’t go wrong with. 12/10’s version is a more modern Japanese take on the staple drink, using Suntory Haku Vodka and Kahlua for that extra coffee flavor.
I am a dessert person, through and through—which means I jumped at the chance to sample 12/10’s daytime menu. I entered the restaurant with expectations set sky high, and I was more than pleased to have them exceeded by miles.
There are five courses to the daytime omakase: tart, frozen yogurt, french toast and buttermilk fried sweetbread, sorbet, and soufflé.
On the menu, the tart course is simply described as “tofu, black sesame, boba, and kinako.” As with most omakase-style meals, the presentation was also part of the experience. The tart’s shell was all black, topped with boba, and sprinkled with kinako or roasted soybean flour.
While there’s no strict rules regarding how to consume the course, its size suggested that I finish it in one bite. The shell is crisp and firm, while the inside is soft and silken thanks to the tofu. The sweetness from the boba made it taste like a fancy version of buchi (one of my favorite Chinese desserts), while the kinako gave it a nutty, roasted flavor.
It was looking like we were off to a great start.
Nothing could have possibly prepared me for the frozen yogurt course, which is made of beet, lime, pistachio, and wasabi. The dish came in looking very much like a piece of maguro sushi—with a dab of wasabi on top and everything. The deep magenta color on top was thanks to the beet. The yogurt was firm and sat atop a pistachio biscuit, which made handling it easier.
The yogurt itself was smooth and had a mellow, fresh lime flavor. The biscuit base provided textural difference, which made the dish more interesting. What blew my mind was the addition of wasabi.
Instead of spice, you taste a rush of earthy coolness that easily complements the aforementioned flavors. It tasted like a stroke of genius. The way the flavors played with one another for an unforgettable bite and how it all came together is something I will always treasure. To me, this course alone is worth the entire experience. It’s shocking how something as simple as frozen yogurt can be a reflection of creativity and technical skill.
This course was my second “Ratatouille” moment of the year, following the spectacular sea bass course at Josh Boutwood’s new Helm.
French toast and buttermilk fried sweetbread
The frozen yogurt course was hard to top, but the french toast and buttermilk fried sweetbread (a reinterpretation of chicken and waffles) was up to the task. You’ll have to break through a thin wafer made with Japanese charcoal to reveal the rest of the dessert.
Under the binchotan wafer, you’ll find a purée of white peach and maple-infused cream with the french toast in the center. The french toast was, of course, cooked to perfection—crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
The toast itself is hearty and warm, which contrasts well with the cool peach and sweet maple cream. The binchotan wafer adds a toasty, smoky flavor to the otherwise bright and sweet dessert—bringing a delectably happy balance to the dish.
12/10 has always been known for their buttermilk fried chicken, but instead of chicken, this dish uses a veal sweetbread—specifically pancreas. Don’t be intimidated (or confused), though. The exterior is crispety-crunch, audibly so. It’s seasoned with thyme and tastes like an elevated version of fried chicken (to the point where I had to ask if it wasn’t chicken). The white meat hiding inside is moist, juicy, and flavorful.
The staff suggests that you eat the french toast first, followed by the sweetbread. But personally, I enjoyed my last bite with a little bit of both.
The fourth course is a corn sorbet with sake kasu (a sauce made with sake), cereal, sansho (a type of pepper), and jelly. It’s a blessedly light course after the rich french toast and buttermilk fried sweetbread.
The sorbet has a light corn flavor and is on the sweeter side in comparison to the previous dishes. It’s an overall earthier dish, thanks to the sansho and some alfalfa.
The best is usually saved for last, and (my personal bias for the frozen yogurt course aside) the soufflé is no exception. The final course is a dark chocolate soufflé course with coffee and almond.
The high-rising dessert is a light, fluffy, chocolatey treat served fresh out of the oven. There’s a straightforwardness to be found in this course. No shade to the other dishes, but the soufflé’s simplicity (if a soufflé could ever be described as simple) made it stand out.
As you spoon your way through the cloud of chocolate goodness, there’s another surprise to be found. Near the bottom of the dish, there’s a molten center made of coffee, almond, and caramelized pieces of sweetness that Samantha described as “panutsa, but make it almond.”
In contrast to the airy nature of the soufflé, the center is thick, rich, and almost caramel-like in flavor. The coffee further amps up the chocolate flavor, and you’ll have to do your best to restrain yourself from licking what remains from the vessel it was served in.
What dessert dreams are made of
Like music, food is a language that can speak directly to the soul. In its purest form, it can convey more than what can be said. There are endless possibilities in the realm of dessert, and the five small plates presented by 12/10 expanded those possibilities even more.
Though the cuisine may be modern Japanese, the menu spoke a universal language. It spoke of faraway places through the ingredients they’ve used, memories and experiences the hands that created have gone through in the process of making this possible, and the potential for even more.
I mean it when I say run—don’t walk—to experience this. For people with an intimate and special connection with food, the restaurant’s latest menu feels like a revelation. Art in edible form, if I may be so bold to say.
And for people who don’t have that type of relationship with food—trust us.
It’s really, really good.