Blink and you might miss this tiny Japanese oasis in Kensington Market.
Little Pebbles is the passion project of owner and head baker Dada Ahn, supported by her coffee-loving, designer husband. The minimalist, airy design esthetic of the nine-stool café is his contribution, while Dada crafts its delicate desserts. “I’ve been interested in baking since a young age,” she confesses, “but my parents always wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. They supported my baking, but they thought it would just be a hobby.”
Dada has only ever had eyes for Japanese recipes. In her opinion, “Japanese baking uses very few ingredients to create some amazing results.” This dedication is reflected in everything she does: from importing johakuto sugar, black sesame paste and ceremonial-grade matcha powder to incorporating rice our to create a lighter, slightly chewy chiffon cake.
The showstopper for me, however, was Little Pebbles’ variety of tiramisu. The immaculate presentation of the Matcha Tiramisu caught my eye as it is served in a square, wooden hinoki masu sake cup, dusted with vivid green matcha powder, with a medallion of white chocolate at its centre. Dig down through the rich mascarpone cheese and you’ll find sweet tsubuan paste and ladyfingers soaked in matcha tea.
If you’re more into cherry blossoms than green tea, Little Pebbles’ Sakura Tiramisu tops the same sweet mascarpone cheese with edible gold leaf and actual pickled cherry blossoms suspended in a rosewater tea jelly. The slight saltiness of those pickled blossoms provides a very original contrast to the sweet jelly and cheese. I would be hard pressed to pick one tiramisu over the other, so your safest bet is to try both!
To complement all of these sweets, Little Pebbles brews house blend and single origin coffee from De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters and teas from Herbal Infusions, and it offers unique latte avours, like black sesame and kinako. I was happy to discover that the black sesame latte was made exactly as promised using only milk, black sesame paste and simple syrup if you choose to have it sweetened.
Little Pebbles will be celebrating its one-year anniversary on November 18. To find out about the special event it has planned, be sure to follow the café on Instagram @LittlePebblesTO.
160 Baldwin St., Store #4, Toronto | 416-792-0404| little-pebbles.com
OPEN: Mon–Thurs 9 am–7 pm • Fri 9 am–8 pm Sat10am–8pm•Sun11am–7pm