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Best Internationally Inspired Desserts In Los Angeles

Our city's food excels because it goes beyond a combination of seasonal ingredients and creative technique. It welcomes and highlights the influences of the many communities who have made Los Angeles their home, bringing with them foods and flavors from other countries. There are a few restaurants and sweet shops with desserts that translate those dishes into treats you must try.
Malva_B - Sqirl
(Credit: Sqirl)

Malva Pudding Cake
720 Virgil Avenue #4
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 284-8147

Sqirl's Malva Pudding Cake looks like just the messy, gooey sight you want to stick a fork in. The cake has roots in South Africa by way of Dutch colonizers who brought the traditional dessert with them. It's easy to find in South Africa, but Sqirl may be the only place in L.A. with malva in its pastry case. Apricot jam and just a touch of vinegar are the secret ingredients that add flavor to the base, and it's filled with a cascade of cream, butter and sugar as soon as the cake slides out of the oven.

Ah boong - Somi Somi
(Credit: Somi Somi)

Somi Somi
621 South Western Avenue, Suite 208-A
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 568-3284

Somi Somi is an ice cream shop serving ah-boong, the Korean version of a Japanese treat known as taiyaki. Soft, chewy, nearly pancake-like cones with a lightly crisp exterior, are filled with sweet red bean paste, custard or Nutella, then a fat swirl of soft serve of your choosing and sprinkled with a smattering of free toppings. For those racked with indecision, Somi Somi's menu lists varieties that pair well like the G'Lovers Boong with green tea soft serve and red bean or the Greenpuccino Boong with true milk and green tea ice cream and red bean.

Malabi - Bacari GDL
(Credit: Bacari GDL)

Bacari GDL
The Americana at Brand
757 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210
(818) 696-1460

Bacari's third location in Glendale recently opened with a menu quite different from its sister properties in Downtown and Playa Del Rey. The menu boasts a latch-top jarred dessert called malabi. It's a creamy, soft Israeli pudding with roots in Turkey. Unlike a custard, malabi is egg-free, and with less milk than a cream-based dessert, the consistency is thinner than a custard. Bacari's base is flavored with floral rosewater, then topped with a layer of hibiscus syrup, sweet coconut, and candied pistachios.

Chichi Dango - Chichi Dango (1)
(Credit: Chichi Dango)

Chichi Dango
Smogasburg LA

There's a new kid in town at our Sunday Smorgasburg in DTLA, and it goes by the name Chichi Dango. The folks behind Shrimp Daddy bring another taste of Hawaii to L.A. in the form of shaved ice topped with chichi dango--little "dumplings" of Japanese mochi baked in the oven. The menu is limited to two flavors, Strawberry Lilikoi Hawaiian and Pineapple Coco Cream, and they offer three chichi dango flavors--milk, matcha, and strawberry. Chichi Dango's chewy rice flour candies are handmade, and they sit alongside a pyramid tower of ice cream, soft shaved ice and fresh fruit purée.

Golden Kataifi with Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Mandarinquats and Pistachio IC_Tavern
(Credit: The Lucques Group)

Golden Kataifi
11648 San Vicente Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 806-6464

Kataifi resembles a spool of golden pastry or a crispy, baked bird's nest due to it's shape. It's the perfect vessel for holding beautiful fruits or custard and cream. Kataifi is popular in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East and is often paired with nuts and a sweet syrup similar to baklava. Tavern's Golden Kataifi fills a round, thread-like pastry with vanilla ice cream and dots the plate with candied mandarinquats and crunchy pistachios.

Tres Leche Trois Familia - Tu Anh N Yelp
(Credit: Tu-Anh N./Yelp)

Tres Leche Birthday Cake
Trois Familia
3510 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 725-7800

Trois Familia's France-meets-Mexico by way of California menu opens the door for the food to express itself in many ways. One item on the menu provides an opportunity to celebrate any day of the week. Trois Familia's tres leche-style birthday cake is a classic play on the Latin American dessert that features a white sponge cake soaked in three types of milk. The frosting is dusted with multi-colored sprinkles like an explosion of confetti. Eat like it's your birthday, even when it's not.

Namoura - FArida Restaurant
(Credit: Bowery Street Enterprises)

6266 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 498-5100

Farida's menu includes an Arabic semolina cake that goes by many names depending on where you may be eating it--perhaps namoura in Lebanon, harissa in Syria, basbousa in Egypt or revani in Greece or Turkey. The traditional cake is always topped with almonds, and draped in a syrup often flavored with rosewater or orange blossom water. At Farida, this cake receives a fenugreek syrup drizzle. Drop of dollop of rosewater yogurt onto each bite for a bit of smooth, tartness that will balance the sweet.

Harajuki Crepe - Chris C Yelp
(Credit: Chris C./Yelp)

Harajuku Crepe
9405 South Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 285-3946

You'll find French-inspired crepes in the streets of Japan, but they're a bit different, making them a crepe of their own. Harajuku Crepe adds mochi powder to their crepe batter, which gives them a light chewy pull along with that outer crisp from the griddle. They're also rolled into a conical shape, just as they are in Japan, which makes them much easier to get on the run. The batters also come in several flavors, such as buckwheat and green tea. There are an array of fillings and toppings, including green tea ice cream, black sesame ice cream, red beans, mochi and more.

Chrystal Baker is a freelance food and events contributor for CBS Los Angeles, Basil Magazine and Frugivore Magazine. She is the co-editor of a recipe blog, The Duo Dishes, and manages her own lifestyle and travel blog, Any and Everywhere.

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