Black Sesame Pudding Takes the Cake

Italian Tomato's Black Sesame Pudding and Strawberry Quartet Cake
Italian Tomato's Black Sesame Pudding and Strawberry Quartet Cake
Grace Le
Looks aren't everything. Read on to find out how this glob of what looks like bizzarro flan actually tops the handsome slice of Heaven behind it.

If you've ever meandered into the food court of

Mitsuwa Marketplace


Costa Mesa

, you probably noticed the seemingly random

Italian Tomato

nestled amongst all the noodles and rice balls.

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More of a Japanese tomato than anything, this little bistro dishes out "Italian" fare with a Japanese flare (yeah, that rhymed). Although the place does serve up some strange spaghetti (for which it's not very popular... and for good reason), the main draw are the adorable slices of various cakes, cream puffs and parfaits that line its little glass display case.

The strawberry quartet cake is a perfect representative of the alluring sweets Italian Tomato has to offer. Just take a look and tell us you don't immediately want to grab yourself a cup of tea and go face-down on it:

Strawberry Quartet Cake
Strawberry Quartet Cake
Grace Le
Baked daily and elegantly designed, the strawberry quartet is comprised of allternating layers of puff pastry, chocolate sponge cake and feather-light whipped cream embedded with fresh strawberries. At $3.50 a slice, you'd think you've found your soul mate... That is, until you've taken the 20th bite of what seems to be a regenerating mass of unending sweetness.

Enter the black sesame pudding:

Black Sesame Pudding (kuro goma purin)
Black Sesame Pudding (kuro goma purin)
Grace Le

Squat, dark and unattractively displayed in a plastic to-go container, the black sesame pudding is easy to miss, banished to the bottom display shelf while its better-looking cousins hog the spotlight. Little do you know, this spotty bit of goo is the equivalent of the homely BFF of the opposite sex you never realized you're in love with.

You might be hesitant to shell out $2 for a little container of an unidentifiable substance, but in this case less is definitely more. The pudding's consistency is thick while still remaining creamy. The flavor is subtly sweet and rich without being overwhelmingly so.

Finely ground black sesame seeds create the dark layers between the lighter pudding and add an aromatic nuttiness to the flavor. The serving size is just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without making you ill, unlike the endless fluffiness of the strawberry quartet cake--which has the potential to make you go belly-up.

Of course, you have to appreciate sesame to get on with this dessert and if you don't, at least you've got a backup plan.

Italian Tomato
665 Paularino Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626-3033

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