MAXINE GORDON visits a new dessert cafe full of Eastern promise

THERE'S one place in York where it is snowing all year round – and you can eat it!

Bae specialises in posh patisserie with an Asian twist and has just opened in Franklins Yard, a cobbled lane off Fossgate, smack bang in the heart of one of York's best eating-out districts.

This has to be one the city's most unusual food stops – for starters, you can eat a bowl of 'snow' topped with ice-cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Called Bingsoo, this is a favourite dessert in Korea, where, on a hot day, people queue up for it as we do in the West for ice-cream.

The 'snow' can be made from any liquid – including alcohol – and is created in a special freezer unit that reaches -50C. At Bae, the Bingsoo I tried was made from milk. In the bowl, it looked like a pile of fresh, powdery snow; in the mouth, it formed into a freezing icicle then melted to back to a watery milk. Be warned: it gives you brain freeze, and sets sensitive teeth jangling. But it's great fun to eat!

York Press:

Bingsoo made of 'snow' at Bae Dessert Cafe in York  Photos: Frank Dwyer

The dessert cafe is the brainchild of Mikhail Lim, a 28-year-old Filipino who has lived in York for 14 years. He prefers to call it a "dessert boutique", and he has a point. This is no ordinary cake shop. This is parlour of serious sweet treats – the haute couture of the cake world. On this cake catwalk expect to see the finest of French patisserie: everything from mousses and glazes to possets and buttercreams, to chiffons and cannelles – but with an Eastern twist.

Exotic flavours such as matcha and yuzu share the limelight with miso and tonka bean.

You will find Bae open during the daytime (Tuesdays to Saturdays) in the ground floor of Oshibi, the Korean restaurant that has been a staple of Franklins Yard for the past five years.

The cafe is very much a collaboration with Oshibi's owner, Ross Sinclair, and desserts are now sold in the restaurant every evening.

So is York ready for this confectionery revolution? Oh yes, insists Mikhail, who is largely self taught. "York is a place that always wants to try something new," he says.

And Ross says customers are already giving the desserts the thumbs-up, particularly the signature pudding – the Bae, a dome of white chocolate served upon a milk mousse and decorated with crushed Speculaas biscuits. "Regulars are saying it is the best dessert they've had in their life!" says Ross, beaming.

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Signature dessert Bae is transformed with the help of cherry sauce

Some praise, so, of course, I have to try it. And I can confirm it deserves a spot in the pudding hall of fame. It comes with a little pot of hot cherry sauce that you have to pour over the chocolate dome. This melts the chocolate shell to reveal a white chocolate mousse, a milk ice-cream and some poached pear. After the melting, the kirsch-infused coulis flows through the ingredients, turning it into a messy plate of naughtiness. In one spoonful you scoop up the silky, sweet sauce, crumbs of biscuit, a firm, cool nugget of ice cream and slice of just-tender pear. I loved every mouthful and would go back to have it again.

The Bae and the Bingsoo are very much in the full-blown after-dinner dessert category, but the cafe offers a range of smaller sweet treats too.

Some are as simple as the Korean cookie, Yakgwa, or the utterly delicious cornflake brownie flavoured with tonka bean (yes, I tried that too! – if you like brownies and cornflake cakes, this is the one for you).

Perhaps the concoction that most closely resembles traditional French patisserie is the Decadence, which truly lives up to its name. "It's a chocolate mousse cake with caramel-miso chocolate and sesame sauce," explains Mikhail. And it's finished in a chocolate glaze almost shiny enough to see your face in.

Other delights include Arirang, a swiss roll made with matcha (green tea) buttercream; Ddalgi, strawberry chiffon cake with strawberry buttercream, and Yuja, featuring white chocolate and yuzu (an Asian citrus). Prices range from £1 to £2 for small cakes to £8.95 for a dessert such as Bae.

York Press:

Mikhail Lim with some of his Asian-inspired treats at Bae

Patisserie is often strictly out-of-bounds for anyone with allergies, intolerances or following a vegan diet – but not at Bae, stresses Mikhail.

Several items are gluten-free and suitable for vegans, including the lilac-coloured Goguma, made from purple sweet potato and vegan cream cheese.

Even the Bingsoo can be made for vegans, he adds, by switching milk for a non-dairy alternative.

There's considerable skill and artistry on show at Bae – which is all the more impressive because Mikhail has learned his trade on the hoof.

A former pupil of All Saints School in York, he attended York College, then studied drama at York St John university. He has been in many productions by York Stage Musicals, playing Eddie in Sister Act and Dennis in Rock of Ages.

A love of cooking took him to Ashburton College, a culinary school in Devon, where he learned chef skills. But his real love was desserts and he learned how to be a pastry chef while working in an array of kitchens. "I worked at lots of chains and ended up as head of pastry at The Ivy in York when it opened."

His dream was to open his own place – offering delicious desserts with an Asian twist. He said: "I've always been inspired by Asian flavours. I have been inspired by a Japanese pastry chef Sadaharu Aoki who has a Japanese bakery in Paris. I went to Paris just to check him out – and my sister went to Disneyland!"

Bae Dessert Boutique at Oshibi, Franklins Yard, York, open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5.30pm.