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I know that when you think of Chinatown in New York City, your thoughts might immediately wander to exotic fruit markets, cheap shopping and authentic Chinese food. But, my favorite thing to do when I’m in Chinatown is to follow my sweet tooth, and luckily my friend is always willing to be my partner in crime! We think that Chinatown has the best dessert places and we’ve been known to hit two places in one evening. I know, greedy! Here’s a list of the best dessert places in Chinatown NYC for you, if you’re looking for something sweet and often unique treats.
Top Dessert Shops in Chinatown NYC
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Best Ice Cream in Chinatown NYC
- 2 Alternatives to Ice Cream
- 2.1 Best Rice Pudding in Chinatown NYC
- 2.2 Best Sponge Cake in Chinatown NYC
- 2.3 Best Buns in Chinatown NYC
- 2.4 Best Bubble Tea in Chinatown NYC
Best Ice Cream in Chinatown NYC
I love ice cream all year round! And so must many others, considering there are so many Ice Cream shops to choose from in Chinatown. When I traveled through Italy with my family, my cousin and I made it a point to try gelato in every city, and all different types of flavors. Well, I like to recreate that vacation in Chinatown on a regular basis. Here are a few of the best ice cream in Chinatown NYC for your consideration
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
This tiny, family-owned place on Bayard street (off of Mulberry) is one of my favorites, not just because of their delicious ice cream, but also because of all of the unique flavors that can’t be (or rarely are) found anywhere outside of Chinatown. For example, I love anything with Lychee in the title, but there’s also Red Bean, Thai Iced Tea, Ginger and, if you are really brave, Black Sesame (an acquired taste, in my opinion, but my bestie, who’s also co-writer, loves it). They also have great “Caribbean” flavors that remind me of Puerto Rico (I’m a NYRican after all), such as Coconut, Pineapple and Mango. Hilariously, these types of flavors are listed under their “Regular” menu. Under their “Exotic” flavors, you will find: Coffee, Rocky Road, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry, etc…you get the picture. And last, but not least, they have “Special Appearance” flavors like Honey Lavender, Chocolate Bacon, and Pina Colada Sorbet, so you never know what you will find! Of course, they make ice cream cakes and shakes, and they also sell cute items with their logo (t-shirts, hats and such) in case you want to bring home a souvenir.
They have 3 locations, including a most recent one, which just opened in Flushing, NY. You can check out their website for more information.
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Right next door to CICF is Mango Mango. Mango is one of my favorite fruits and so, it makes sense that I’d love mango-flavored desserts and drinks. Well, Mango Mango is like heaven on earth (but the location is so small that’s it’s often crowded and more often, I have to take my dessert to go). More than just ice cream, they have other options such as Mango Pancake, Mango Mochi, Fruits covered in Nutella, dessert soups, and tons of “juices” that can include jellies and rice balls. They have other NYC locations, but I’m rarely in Chinatown without stopping in here for something sweet. They have some of the coolest desserts in NYC.
Minus 10 (formerly 10 Below)
Inspired by Thai ice cream curls, Minus 10 Ice Cream‘s Mott Street location is only a few feet away from some of our favorite restaurants. The name comes from their use of a cold plate to mix the ice cream and ingredients, right before your eyes. As they scrape your ice cream off of the plate, it curls into beautiful rolls and usually served with toppings. With flavors like Fruity Bam Bam, Ain’t Got No Thai Fo’ Dat and Cookie Monster, you just can’t go wrong. The ice cream is very creamy, surprisingly, airy and almost too pretty to eat. I said, ALMOST…don’t let that stop you!
If you like waffles and/or pancakes, Taiyaki NYC is the place to go! Apparently, Taiyaki translated in Japanese means “fried fish,” so the wonderful Taiyaki ice cream is served in these fantastic fish-shaped waffle cones (looking almost like works of art). What’s interesting is their lightly flavored ice cream is soft serve, which is actually my favorite (I love the race against time to eat it before it melts!) and I love a good swirl (two flavors swirled together). They have cultural flavors (like red bean, matcha and sesame) along with traditional flavors (like vanilla, chocolate). They also have uber fluffy (soufle-like) pancakes and drinks.
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To date, I still cry over the loss of the “Egg Lady of Mosco Street” whose real name was Mrs. Cecilia Tam. She would make the most amazing eggy, crispy, mini pancakes and, for one dollar, you’d get a bag of 15 (yes, this was a long time ago). Well, even if you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is your chance to find out! At Eggloo, you can get an ice cream accompanied by an egg cake (instead of a cone) – what a great combo!
Alternatives to Ice Cream
Now, we’re not snobs…we are willing to enjoy all sorts of sweet treats in Chinatown. Here are some of our other favorites.
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Best Rice Pudding in Chinatown NYC
Rice to Riches (edge of Chinatown & LES)
Located on the edge of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, if you didn’t guess already, we’re talking about Rice Pudding. Now, if you don’t like rice pudding, you’re forgiven, but I say, if you are on the fence, this is the one that might push you onto my side! I’ve always liked Rice Pudding, but it’s all of the amazing flavors at Rice to Riches that makes me a super fan. From Category 5 Caramel, Be My Banana Coconut, Coconut Coma, to Play It Again Butter Pecan and OREO “GASM,” how can you resist with such fun names as well? I even love their unique spoons. I prefer the Omni size where you get to choose up to 3 flavors…yummy! BTW, I never add toppings; to me, the rice pudding is the star and doesn’t need any accompaniment.
Best Sponge Cake in Chinatown NYC
Kam Hing Coffee Shop
Don’t know if you like sponge cake. In my opinion, it’s an acquired taste. Well, if you do, the Kam Hing Coffee Shop has these delicious little sponge cakes that go great with coffee or tea. The best part is that they come in a variety of flavors including green tea, coconut, matcha, strawberry, chocolate chip and original and you can’t beat the low price. Just yummy!
Golden Fung Wong Bakery
For a larger, more traditional sponge cake, Golden Fung Wong bakery is the one for you. In addition, locals (including mom) love their fortune cookies, moon cakes, egg custards and other Chinese sweets. Of course, other popular alternative bakery chains like Taipan and Fay Da, which offer amazing sweets as well, so include them on your list.
Best Buns in Chinatown NYC
Now, if sweet and savory combos are your thing and you are not a vegetarian, then you must try a baked Roast Pork Bun. There are also meat free ones like coconut buns.
Hop Shing Restaurant
We prefer the baked Roast Pork Bun to the steamed ones, but they are delicious. In our opinion, Hop Shing restaurant makes the best ones around. There are other buns on their Dim Sum menu as well, like plain or coconut buns…try a little bit of everything and you can’t go wrong.
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Mei Li Wah Bakery
Speaking of baked Roast Pork Buns, Mei Li Wah bakery makes them in a more Filipino style. The difference is in the sweet bun part and then how the inner ingredients are mixed. To some, there may be little to no difference but to those with a discerning palate, they definitely have their favorites. A great bakery in Chinatown NYC!
Best Bubble Tea in Chinatown NYC
There are just too many places to mention for Bubble Tea. In fact, previously, obtaining a bubble tea outside of Chinatown was very challenging, but now they are all over NYC. We’ll just mention two for now.
Vivi Bubble Tea
You can’t miss Vivi Bubble Tea location because there’s a giant Homer Simpson standing outside, guarding the entrance (sometimes there’s a line for taking pics). My favorites are the fresh fruit teas vs. the more traditional ones made with milk, but it’s all a matter of taste. Don’t be afraid to have them throw in some tapioca or jelly. It’s delicious.
Kung Fu Tea
Kung Fu Tea is both tasty and refreshing. And its one of those few places that doesn’t feel like a franchise, even though it’s available world-wide. As if with most Apps, it’s definitely worth downloading theirs for discounts and rewards. Like in many places, you can control the percentage of sugar, amount of ice, type of milk, etc. which means that they will make it to your exact taste!
Final Thoughts and note about Egg Custards
Egg Custards, special Chinese treats, are definitely worth trying wherever you go (if you like egg pastry with a little savory sweet flavor). Our suggestion, give them a try when you find them and you’ll develop a taste for them yourself. You can truly find and fall in love with the best eats in Chinatown NYC.
Hope that your knowledge of Chinatown NYC has expanded and that you now see how it can be a mecca for your sweet satisfaction!
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