You don’t need to have a sweet tooth to appreciate the artful creations of pastry chef Eunji Lee, who is the creative force behind the exquisite New York pastry shop Lysée. Located in Manhattan’s Flatiron district in a historic two-level space, Lysée is a dessert destination like no other. Featuring interiors by the Seoul-based design firm Labotory, the space beautifully combines elements of Korean tradition and nods to historic and contemporary New York with a French culinary flair – summing up the Korean-born patissier’s background.
Lysée NYC: time to indulge
‘I wanted to have a space that corresponds to my identity and my dessert style: Korean-French-New Yorker,’ says Lee, who spent ten years training and working in Paris, notably under Alain Ducasse and Cedric Grolet at Le Meurice, before becoming the executive pastry chef at the two Michelin-starred Korean restaurant Jungsik in Tribeca.
‘I wanted to create a culturally meaningful space that is also well-balanced and harmonious. We have traditional Korean materials, like a mother-of-pearl wall, a Korean wood pillar from an ancient traditional mansion in Korea, and used traditional [granite] stone [from Pocheon in Korea] for the bottom of a table. The design highlights the pastry as edible art, as the hero of the stage. Using this very understated, minimalistic design puts the emphasis on our pastries as the main objects.’
Even without such evocative environs, Lee’s edible creations are veritable works of art. An effortless mix of French techniques, Korean flavours and locally sourced New York ingredients, the menu’s highlights include the house’s signature mousse cake, comprised of a toasted brown rice mousse, brown rice caramel and pecan praline; a strawberry tart made from the cult Harry’s Berries strawberries; jam made from said berries; Catskills’ honey curd cream; and best of all, its iconic corn mousse cake – a corn sablé topped with an airy corn crémeux and corn mousse, piped over with a grilled corn cream to resemble the vegetable in its entirety.
‘When I create desserts, I'm always thinking, in every single way, about how the guest will experience it,’ Lee adds. ‘How to cut and how to eat it with which size of spoon, how to travel, how to enjoy and celebrate with friends and family. Every element matters. We're making our cakes with passion and love, hoping every guest who has them is happier for that moment of enjoyment and gets some positive energy!’
For those with a more traditional palate, Lee also offers an abundance of French pastries; the house’s Kouign Amann is a hot favourite, made using French Isigny butter for an unparalleled flavour. The Full Moon, a croissant decadently filled with house-made hazelnut and chocolate spread, also knows little competition.
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44 E 21st Street NY, NY 10010
Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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