Explore a new way of looking at desserts
A trip to Endo evokes warm, sweet memories.
Endo knows how to keep their clients satisfied – from the light and calming decor to the laid-back atmosphere and the way the team delivers their delectable sweet pleasures.
It is a hidden venue dedicated to a journey of plated desserts pairedwith wine and tea. It's a concept of two brothers from Taiwan – Friso and Yen Hsiao.
Friso is the pastry chef who is in charge of the kitchen, and Yen is a jewelry designer and sculptor who excels at bringing a sense of nature to an indoor space that raises the senses when tasting the sweet creations.
"We wanted to create a platform for enthusiastic diners in Shanghai to explore a new way of looking at desserts," said Friso.
"We wanted Endo to be more than just a pastry shop. The name Endo is a Greek prefix meaning within, containing, absorbing and internal. We wanted to constantly remind ourselves to look at all ingredients and techniques equally.
"By not categorizing our style into one genre, we use the techniques that make the most sense to us, may it be classic French or Chinese pastry technique. To us, what's really exciting is when French and Chinese diners take a bite of the same dessert and say 'oh wow this reminds me of my childhood.' This is when we know we are on the right track," Friso said.
Friso had always wanted to be a pastry chef since a young age. At 28, he is still quite young. But growing up in a conservative family, cooking never seemed like a career option for him.
"To fulfill my parents' expectation, I studied mathematics at college but soon found out that I preferred a more artistic career path. After a few years in the field of art administration in New York, I moved to Paris to work full time as a pastry chef.
"It might seem like a big change but at that time it seemed all natural to me. I remember devouring all the cookbooks every time I went to a bookshop. It was only a matter of time before I immersed myself in the culinary world," he said.
Friso began his professional training at the Ferrandi culinary school in France, after which he was hired as the assistant to the head chef at Dalloyau.
He was really lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside two very different head chefs. One uses traditional French methods, while the other is forward- thinking and ambitious, deviating from tradition but maintaining its integrity.
"Together we were running all the R&D work for our shops in France, Japan and Hong Kong (SAR). Working for the two of them was a life-changing experience," he said.
Friso wanted to share his delight, passion and philosophy for desserts at Endo. Thanks to his brother Yen's contributions, it's a venue that delivers more than just palate pleasures.
"Once, a customer walked in and asked us if he needs to take his shoes off. I guess that was the atmosphere we wanted to create – cozy, laid back, almost like walking into a friend's living room. Everything inside the space is built by my brother and our father. So to many, Endo might seem more like a house than a commercial space," Friso said.
Most of Yen's installation plays around with the contrast of copper and live flowers. He also designed the lamps, droplight which are covered with the paper tea makers used to wrap Pu'er tea in Yunnan Province. When the light is turned on, the light shines through the paper, giving it a unique texture and layers.
A five-course dessert tasting with wine or tea pairing is offered at Endo. Unlike traditional French pastries, they use less sugar in all of their creations, and there are a variety of flavors to choose from.
"In traditional dessert making, we often see a great deal of butter and sugar. The use of fat and sweet can make the dessert more appealing and palatable. We tend to use more savory to replace the use of fat and sugar. Umami with a small amount of alcohol react with our mouth in a similar way, making our tongue salivate," he explained.
The journey includes a series of very appealing served sweets.
"Plated dessert is a format that is more commonly seen in the Western dining scene. As the plated dessert is served and consumed a la minute, pastry chef are given the opportunity to explore more fragile and time-sensitive ingredients such as fresh gelato or crispy sheets lighter than air," Friso said. "We prepare everything just before serving. Once all diners are seated, we begin our service and fire out all the dishes on the clock so the diners can experience the prime texture and temperature.
"Another advantage of salted dessert is that we can experiment with different pairings. Diners can choose from a selection of five wine or tea pairings. If it's just the two of you, we always recommend a tea and wine pairing. When we have lone diners at the bar, we recommend a mix so they can get the most out of the match," he added.
While Friso is in charge of the wines, Yen takes leads on the tea pairing program. They serve a wide range of beverages from smokey dry cider from Normandie to homemade kombucha with parsnip and shiso.
"We put a lot of effort to find the right tea or wine for the dessert. There are even times we created a new dessert because we found out about a new tea or a wine that interested us," Friso said. "For one of our autumn dishes with persimmon, chestnut, Chinese wampee and creamy rice, we paired it with an orange wine from Emilia-Romagna and just a dash of a barrel-aged gin from Finland. When the two are combined, you get noses of citrus, wood and a creamy note as it comes from fresh ginger and carrot. Having this drink by the side, it augments the dish's overall flavor, enhancing the wampee's and persimmon's aroma and giving it another layer of woody notes."
The brothers believe that dessert should not just be a party of sweet and fat. There is a lot more to what a plated dessert can offer to us. And that's why they want all their guests to experience the full pairing.
The new menu is available now and it's focused on the seasonal transition between winter to spring. "We like this idea of transition. As we feel more warmth from the sun and the vegetables are starting to turn green, we want to capture this moment and serve it to our guests," Friso said.
Opening hours: 4pm-6pm, 8pm-10pm (Friday to Sunday)
Address: 320 Wuyi Road
Average price: 550 yuan (US$87)