Momoya Soho's Seasonal Wine Glass Parfaits Are Beyond Intricate

New York City's Momoya Soho branch is situated on a bustling intersection in downtown Manhattan, but inside the restaurant, the tranquil atmosphere is furnished with clean lines, splashes of cool blue, and tastefully arranged seasonal flowers. Customers enjoy lunches of sushi rolls and bento boxes, brunch plates of yuzu-flavored soufflé pancakes and matcha French toast, or dinner spreads of Wagyu steak and miso lamb. And while happy hours tempt guests with oysters, lychee and shiso cocktails, and bottles of sake, the parfaits on the dessert menu have caused their own stir.

While you may think a parfait is a simple assembly of creams and fruits, the ones at Momoya Soho are works of art. In fact, the line-up of foams, jellies, mousses, mochi, and sorbet in the restaurant's dessert parfaits can become so complicated that they are served to guests with booklets detailing the ingredients associated with each dish.

Desserts inspired by memories and stories

Momoya Soho's pastry chef Norie Uematsu credits her culinary and cultural background for the invention of these unique, detailed creations — assembled using Japanese ingredients and techniques. The desserts' flavors and themes change with the seasons, and Uematsu's memories and stories from Japan often serve as inspiration for new offerings.

A dozen or more elements are artfully layered into wine glasses — a process that can take her team 10 minutes to assemble. For example, the Haru Ranman features a wine glass filled with lychee lemon sakura jelly, strawberry compote, foam made with sakura leaf, vanilla crumble, ganache flavored with Japanese amazake, strawberry tonka sorbet, condensed milk ice cream, butter cookies, guava red shiso mousse, coconut tuile, sakura mochi, and a macaron made with Japanese mugwort and soybean flour.

"Every time I create the menu," Uematsu told Grub Street. "I have to think can everybody else do this?" Whether devising the Haru Ranman — made with Japan's colorful cherry blossom season in mind — or the Tsuru No Ongaeshi, a parfait based on a Japanese folktale that emphasizes kindness and gratitude, Uematsu is weaving stories and sweets to serve neatly in glasses. No, we don't think everyone can do this.