20 Excellent Asian Desserts to Try in NYC

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In most East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, traditional dessert is not the decadent, butter-and-cream affair that it is in Western cuisine. Often times, the last course of the meal is refreshing and cooling, employing flavors like green tea, taro root, and tropical fruit to help cleanse the palate.

But with so many shades of Asian restaurants popping up across town in the last decade — from hyper-traditional to distinctly Asian-American — New York’s best Asian desserts have come to comprise new trends from the Asian continent as well as genre-defying creations that marry classic flavors with pastry technique. From the staples of Chinatown and Flushing to the new-school cakes and cones that have taken over Instagram, these are the Asian desserts to track down in NYC.

 

1. Kulu Desserts

Sago, or tapioca pudding, is a popular dessert in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia. At Kulu Desserts, which has locations in Brooklyn, Elmhurst, and Flushing, these tiny tapioca balls appear in various puddings and cold desserts with fresh fruit, but it’s the warmed taro sago — thickened with sweet coconut milk — that rises above. Served in a bowl like a hot soup, it’s a soul-warming sweet treat ideal for a chilly day.

 

2. Soy Bean Chan Flower & Gift Shop

In Asia, bean curd is a versatile ingredient to be used in dishes both savory and sweet, and indeed that’s how it’s served as this flower shop-meets-tofu joint in Flushing. While the salty version of the dish, called dou fu hua, comes with dried shrimp and pickled mustard greens, its sweet counterpart soaks the silky curd with the traditional sweet ginger syrup. It’s a crazy affordable option — each cup costs just $1.75.

 

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