Chinese Desserts in Norwich

When I first moved back to Norwich after a long stint in London as a chef, I have to admit I was less than happy about the food choices in Norwich. The only place to find sushi rice was Waitrose, there were no Okobassi restaurants, no Vietnamese, no Dim Sum and certainly no Bibimbap!

So – – to see Norwich develop over the last two decades as a food empire has been epic. No less than over 500 places to visit for food & drink in Norwich with a plethora of international food from Korean to a new Chinese Dessert Shop.

Let me tell you all about it – – – 

First of its called ‘Little Forrest Café’ it’s in Earlham Shopping Centre, off Earlham Road, opposite the Co-op, her brother runs the Asian supermarket next door.

Owner ‘Lin’ makes everything in house from the rice balls, to the taro, to the soya milk to the custard, to the snow balls and shaved milk – it’s all fresh, it’s all vegetarian, some is Vegan and a lot is gluten free (although it’s not a gluten free kitchen).

Chinese dessert shops are popular all over China, used for social hubs to meet friends like we go for coffee and cake or to the pub. They’ll use dessert shops all times of the day for a refreshing breakfast, morning warm soya milk, a lunch time sweet treat or an afternoon healthy snack – plus you can access this dessert shop from 10am to 7pm, 5 days a week (shut Mondays and Tuesdays) – so early evenings would be perfect to give it a whirl.

I’ve been in catering for over 30 years, teaching Asian cookery for 15 and to be honest the menu is a mind field for me. Hence, I asked ‘Lin’ if I could come in to decipher the menu – to make it easier for people to know what each dish is.

Here’s some of the Menu – 

  • Sweet Rice Balls with Crushed Peanut & Sesame– warm sticky, bouncy, soft, slightly chewy rice flour balls sat in a syrup made from brown Chinese sugar – a little like molasses with a caramel flavour. My favorite & certainly one to try £4.80 

  • Snow Rice Cake–  Lin makes different flavours daily, this was an Oreo & cream mix covered with a chewy slightly sweet rice & cornflour dough. A good pick up snack. £4.80 
  • Thai black Glutinous Rice Ball with Mango & Coconut Milk – was so refreshing – it’s a sticky, soft tender well flavoured slightly sweet dark rice ball on a bed of frozen milk shavings with chunks of mango. Lovely textures for £6.80 and very popular in China. 

  • Taro ball 5 plus’with little red beans, grass jelly plus coconut jelly, plus 4 types of different colored taro balls – think bubble tea tapioca pearls but bigger, sweet morsels off haribo like soft chewy Sweets. Lin makes them with orange sweet pot, white sweet pot, red pot and white taro. All made with tapioca flour. Along with ‘LongYan’ a small lychee like fruit. The dried fruit is soaked to make the syrup & sweetened with Chinese brown sugar. You mix it all together and eat with a spoon £5.80

  • Warm Vegan Soya Milk£3.20 (home made soya milk)

  • Mango & Pomelo Sago– Chunks of fresh mango in a creamy milky type custard made from sweetened sago made topped with citrus rich pomelo pearls.

  • Mango Pancakes – a chunk of mango covered in light creamy airy mousse, wrapped in a light pancake. £4.80

  • Sesame Soup– is apparently a pan-fried sesame seed mix brought down with Chinese brown sugar and water, served warm with tapioca balls – very popular in China with the older ladies for its health benefits £5.20 (not tried)

  • They also do a Chinese version of Bubble Teabut it’s eaten with a spoon – with a base of black tea, blended down with milk and served with taro balls, coconut & almond slices. £5.60

There is also Blueberry Milk Custard, a creamy concoction topped with fresh blueberry’s, also found on the menu as a mango version £5.80.  

Tofu Puddingmade with homemade soft sweet cubes of tofu in a creamy broth £5.90.

Plus, Coconut Juice and Grass Jelly£5.80 

– What’s Grass jelly? it’s very popular in Asian with a distinct earthy slightly bitter flavor made from the Platostoma Palustre Plant !!! now you know – but it tastes sweet enough to enjoy, I sometimes find it a little over powering –  

BUT I like ‘Little Forrest’ grass jelly – in fact I like Lin’s everything.

Nothing is too sweet – I love the Chinese textures, I like that slight bubble gum texture, that little bite here and that soft squidge there. The freshness the warm or the ice-cold. It makes it all the more exciting with great unique flavours.

Chinese Brown Sugar– in brown blocks a little like the Indian jiggery or the Thai Palm Sugar. Made from sugar cane without removing the molasses. 

Little Forrest – Earlham Shopping Centre, Norwich, Nr23PD – – 01603 457415

You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten the World – –

before the world eats you.

It’s all about the FOOD.

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

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