Osio. In Japanese, it means “salt.” In Korean, it means “welcome.” And in French, it’s reminiscent of “oiseau” or “bird.”
The husband-and-wife duo behind Osio – a Japanese pastry shop – are no strangers to the complexity of language, culture, or food. Chef Ken Young Park carries a Korean passport but learned her craft at the Kyoto Pastry & Bakery Art College in Japan. Business manager and husband Francesco Butturini grew up in Italy but spent six years in Japan before returning to Europe to work in the restaurant industry. Together they speak Japanese, the defining language and culture in their relationship and shared passion for dessert.
After six years of selling her pastries at the Lausanne market, Ken Young’s skill has finally found a permanent home in a beautiful industrial space across from the Prilly-Malley train station. The former safe factory is spacious and flooded with light. When COVID restrictions allow, we look forward to cups of Japanese tea and sweet breaks over mochi and cake.
The particularity of Japanese pastry art is found in unique flavors like black sesame, yuzu, and matcha; special techniques such as the preparation of akuzi beans – a three-day process; and the distinctly Japanese visual identity, or “kawaii” which playfully transforms cakes and cookies into objects almost too cute to eat. As a general rule, Japanese baking employs less sugar than its continental cousins and instead dials up savory undertones with salt to enhance flavor.
But don’t expect to feel lost as you survey the sweet options across the glass counter. In many ways, the cakes on display at Osio feel familiar but with a touch of curiosity to pique interest. Pastry, Francesco explained to us, has been a vehicle for cultural appropriation, transported through globalization and reinvented upon arrival. Japanese pastry making is heavily influenced by European techniques and even American flavors. Our favorite example is the Tom & Jerry cheesecake – an American (dare we say) delicacy, rendered adorable in the Japanese kawaii tradition. Green tea chiffon cake or yuzu bouchées also attest to the crossroads of culture that Osio offers.
Dissecting the layers of meaning would be an interesting exercise of semiotics if the object of analysis weren’t so appetizing and we weren’t so impatient to start eating!