Eat your heart out
in Kunming and Dali in Yunnan province.
“Handmade chocolates are very healthy, because they have few chemical additives. I love them and eat them every day,” says the chef, who remains fit and trim.
“But just like Japanese people used to be, most Chinese know little about handmade chocolate, and have had little access to this food.”
Sugita says he came to Beijing because he believes people in the capital are more open-minded.
The shop’s chocolates hit the palate with an initial sweetness, becoming complex as the taste buds pick up a hint of bitterness. They are most delicious when eaten slightly chilled, the chef suggests, though one popular confection, the chocolate truffles, are best at room temperature.
The truffles are shaped into small irregular mounds that resemble mushrooms. The texture and taste changes from a crumbly outside coating to a gooey center (made with an expensive brandy).
Unlike machine-made chocolates, thehandmadecreations have only three ingredients: ground cocoa beans, sugar and lecithin, which acts as an emulsifier. Mass-produced chocolates are often “enhanced” with other ingredients to boost preservation and flavor, including milk, oils, fats and chemical additives, according to Sugita.
An orange-peel chocolate in the shop costs 10 yuan ($1.60), and the truffles also cost 10 yuan each. Raw chocolate costs 48 yuan for an 80-gram package.
Through Feb 15, customers will get a tiny pair of chocolate high-heel shoes at the shop to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Contact the writer at liuzhihua@ chinadaily.com.cn Mike Peters contributed to this story.
Top and below: Japanese chocolate master Sugita Tsyguo’s handmade artisan chocolates and cakes.