Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
May 21, 2008 06:40 PM

Asian dessert with gelatin cubes, fruit, syrup ...

It's served cold in a glass or deep bowl, maybe with some small ice pieces in it. Sometimes the gelatin cubes come in different colors. The fruit often includes lychee. The syrup is on the sweet side. It's really freshing in warm weather.

Does anyone know what this dessert is called and where one can get it, preferably on its own where you don't have to order a whole meal?

I used to love another dessert on Penang's menu. It was ice cream covered with shaved ice and gelatin cubes, maybe a red bean syrup and some other stuff. I would love to know where I could get something like this too, again preferably a place where I wouldn't have to order a whole meal.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What colors were the jelly cubes? If they were all white, they were probably almond jelly cubes, with a bit of fruit cocktail mixed in? I've had that as dessert at Chinese restaurants often, it's usually called "almond dofu" or "almond tofu" on menus.

    Was it coconut or lychee jelly? Often times, pearl milk tea shops will offer these sorts of flavored jellies in lieu of tapioca pearls, BTW. Try Quickly on Grand St. They offer a large variety of shaved ices, jellies, etc.

    For the other dessert, is it ice kacang?

    17 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Yes, ice kacang is right. I just read about it in wiki. I guess I'm looking for something richer than just the shaved ice so, as wiki say, something "to cater to the taste of the modern palate".

      No, I know the almond jelly cubes dessert with canned fruit cocktail that gets served in Chinatown. I've actually made that myself. It's pretty good in the summer with fresh peaches. The dessert I'm looking for has different colored jelly cubes, at least some of which are translucent. Maybe some are opaque but there are definitely brightly colored ones (but they're not like regular jello - they're firmer, including compared to the almond jelly you mentioned). While the dessert isn't super fancy or elaborate, it's got more going on than the "almond tofu" you described.

      1. re: uwsgrazer

        I always make the almond jello with white wood-ear fungus along with fresh fruit. delicious delicious.

        1. re: uwsgrazer

          Did the colored jelly cubes have certain flavors associated with them? I'm trying to figure out if they're coffee or pineapple or whatever-flavored, as opposed to simply multi-colored to look pretty.

          After last night's Top Chef, I'm now endlessly googling for bingsu, halo-halo, kakigori...

          1. re: kathryn

            Good question. They may have but, if so, the flavor was subtle. It was really the texture that stood out. It had a nice chew-y quality to it - very satisfying! Plus, I have to admit I loved the pretty and colorful look of the colored cubes ; )

            Wow, I'll have to google all those terms later myself!

            1. re: uwsgrazer

              yeah halo-halo is really the king although if you do get to taiwan and try their "snow-style" shave ice, the ice used is actually made from condensed milk: just think of the possibilities! I love the large gummy topping which I only remember as . . . "cui-yuan" or something like that; pink, purple and perfectly chewy esp when cooled down by the ice. that, plus some crunchy peanuts and red bean makes for summertime simplicity at its best.

              1. re: bigjeff

                sounds great. halo-halo it is. where can I get some in NY??

                1. re: uwsgrazer

                  Krystals and Renee does Halo Halo btw 69th and 70th on Roosevelt. Those colored cubes I thing are agar agar which is seaweed. Its good for lowering blood sugar levels and making you fell fuller. Its also about 80+% carbs and increases your metabolism. Its a good weight loss food.

                  1. re: uwsgrazer

                    I have had "Halo Halo" at Elvie's Turo Turo, a small Filipino restaurant. Address = 214 First Ave (between East 12th and East 13th) in Manhattan. It's a hole-in-the-wall takeout place but I have ordered just the dessert (i.e. Halo Halo) before (as opposed to ordering entrees from their food counter).

                  1. re: yuanzhoulv

                    Thanks, yuanzhoulv. Hard to tell without trying it. Do you know some places that serve nata de coco?

                    1. re: uwsgrazer

                      The places that sold nata de coco seem to have closed down, though you can always buy a bottle at the Asian Market on Mulberry.

                      1. re: uwsgrazer


                        it's not a thing you serve, it's a thing that you can buy a container of (usually a tall glass jar) at any asian grocery, usually with SE asian goods. it's a component in many ice desserts (and was also the cube inside those little fake lychee jello cups that were so popular a few years ago).

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          Oh. Okay, thanks bigjeff. I'm still working on getting a handle on these various desserts. I find it all a little confusing. I guess I'll just have to sample more, in an effort to figure things out!

                          1. re: uwsgrazer

                            uwsgrazer, I went back to your original post and re-read it again. Sounds like it can also be Chinese/Taiwanese-style Shaved Ice ("Bao Bing / 刨冰" in Mandarin or "Chua Bing" in Taiwanese.). You can get it from the shaved ice / dessert stall in Flushing Mall's foodcourt located at the lower level. At that stall, you can pick from a variety of toppings, including gels, beans, fruits and fruit sauces. Here is someone's blog on the shaved ice there.


                            I believe Shaved Ice also available at the Excellent Pork Chop House on Doyer Street in Manhattan Chinatown (I believe you can get the shaved ice as is without ordering their pork chop rice dishes.) I just checked their menu on Menupages. Looks like they have taro, beans, different gels, and pineapple as possible toppings but no lychee. According to the menu I saw, it's $3.50 for any 3 items. ( I have never ordered shaved ice there so I dont' know how authentic it is... but their pork chop was just so so (at least for my tastebuds) so you might be better off going to Flushing. Hope this helps.

                            1. re: bearmi

                              bearmi, thank you so much for your suggestions! I will keep both places in mind when I'm in those parts of town.

                              1. re: uwsgrazer

                                one thing which might make it all easier is: where exactly did you eat this dessert?

                                I did bum around flushing yesterday on the search; one place which sounded promising is a hot-pot placed called Udu (address is 37-04 Prince Street but it moved around the corner to 37th avenue, switching places with an asian bar) but its still located right near the new ramen setagaya. the hot pot itself looked really good but the manager said they didn't have shave ice yet since they were still working on the renovation.

                                i did have a very generic shave ice at Mr. Tu's Bakery on Roosevelt but it was one of those franchise-type kits that comes with the machine, a poster and some store promo material and instructions, probably like, "bring in additional thousands of dollars by carrying shave ice!" since I saw the same poster all over flushing. with that said, nowhere near as impressive as koryodang's (the flushing location, like the manhattan one, was full of couples sharing a single bingsoo), it was still pretty good; kinda rough ice (they just put ice cubes into a blender so it wasn't even truly a shave ice) topped with milk, condensed milk, red bean, stewed taro, pudding and little strips of gelatin/nata de coco, etc.; it hit the spot.

                                but, onwards!

                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  Good question, bigjeff. I was beginning to wonder myself! Believe it or not, it was actually at a Chinese restaurant in Memphis, TN. I know that probably doesn't help matters, but at least I feel better having figured it out ...

                                  Anyway, thanks for keeping it in mind on your Flushing outing. Maybe I should just try to construct my own at this point, if I can buy some of the colored jellies and fruit. I guess I would have to experiment with the ingredients to figure out the right prep.


              Go to Saint's Alp at 39 3rd Ave. you can have just the drinks, or snacks and then drinks.

              There are places like that in Chinatown, too.

              1. I believe you may be referring to patbingsoo ( ), which can be found in some Korean or Asian cafes/dessert places. I like the red bean "shaved ice" from Koryodang (the KTown 32nd St. location), although it is pretty pricey (considering the simple ingredients) and not the BEST, but worth the splurge once in a while...and so much better than going down the same street to get an overrated cup of Pinkberry! Variations of this dessert with different toppings and syrups are also popular in Malaysia, Philippines ("Halo-Halo"), Japan, Thailand, Singapore, etc. Good luck! ;)

                14 Replies
                1. re: gimmeecake

                  Thanks. I guess maybe what I'm looking for isn't any particular dish. Besides, it seems as if all these dishes are kind of blurring in terms what specific ingredients go into each one. I guess I like the ones that are more than just shaved ice with some syrup poured on. They're good at the beginning but then I feel as if I'm just eating ice so I like it when there are more ingredients and textures, including some sweet ones to satisfy my sweeth tooth!

                  1. re: gimmeecake

                    Hey gimmeecake, I checked out Koryodang. We liked the place, I think as much (or more) for the atmosphere, if you can call it that, as for the shaved ice. You weren't kidding when you said it was pricey - eight or nine bucks for ice served in a plastic container is steep!! But it was a fun atmosphere and almost made me feel as if I had been transplanted to some Asian city in a flash. Thanks for the recommendation.

                    I guess what I'm still searching for is less shaved ice and more of the colorful jelly cube stuff with some beans and maybe fruit like lychee and a little bit of a sweet liquid base, I think. I'm off to HK/China next month. Maybe I'll find it there!

                    1. re: uwsgrazer

                      Besides Koryodang, Cafe Muse on the western end of Ktown also sells bingsoo. Theirs is even more expensive at $12 a pop, but served in a mega-martini glass. Sugar overload but fun!


                      1. re: xigua


                        I tried that cafe muse (now Ele) bingsoo and didn't like it; koryodang is still tops so far but I'm on the hunt.


                    2. re: gimmeecake

                      that koryodang bingsu was amazing! $8.99 but it was so good; very fine ice, we had the greentea and there was sweetened green tea on top of it, very fresh fruit (Well except for the canned peaches); mochi cubes great, green tea ice cream great; it was very good, practically everyone was sharing an order; I saw the coffee one and the milk ones as well.

                      1. re: bigjeff

                        The koryodang shaved ice is really good, and cheaper if you take it to go. It's the closest thing I've had to Taiwanese shaved ice in Manhattan. On a chowhounder suggestion I went to some place on Dowers once but it was not the same.

                        I'm game to go to Flushing for some real Taiwanese shaved ice if folks know of a good place - there must be somewhere, maybe at the mall food courts?

                        1. re: windycity

                          i found that koryodang to be nothing like taiwanese shave ice! i mean, of course the same elements but, just a different . . . interpretation. it was much finer the ice and what with the standard toppings, it was very much like a classy dessert whereas I always have shave ice (esp. in taiwan) at very casual "bars", in night markets (I had a lot of the very popular mango ice when it just came out in taiwan) or on the street. I continue to mourn the loss of Fortune Gourmet (right on the corner of Roosevelt and Prince) which had takeout ice that was extremely taiwanese-y (3 or 4 bucks for a bowl, a bunch of ingredients, etc.). closed at least 5 or 6 years ago but it was the best.

                          recently, I did have an ice at Ice Fire Land and I thought it was alright (red bean, cui-yuan, crunchy peanuts, condensed milk, grass jelly). The Flushing Food Court has a big sloppy one too. But yes, the perpetual hunt goes on for that elusive taiwanese ice, especially the "xue-bing" or snow ice where the ice is made from condensed milk; DAMN!

                          EDIT: just poking around at my post from 3 years ago, asking on the same thing!


                          1. re: bigjeff

                            I really miss Taiwanese shaved ice but it has been 8 years so perhaps my memory of it is not quite as clear. I really liked getting candied starfruit, mochi, and all kinds of preserved plums on my shaved ice.

                            Although I don't miss seeing them dragging the huge ice block in the street and then chipping some off to make my tsua bing. I guess when I say that it's the closest thing for me, I mean in terms of the ingredients. Other places I've been to haven't had the variety and when I was in Taiwan, I definitely didn't have a scoop of ice cream on top. But I like Koryodang;s rendition, despite it's price.

                          2. re: windycity

                            Yes - at the Flushing Mall, 13333 39th Ave.

                          3. re: bigjeff

                            Anyone tried the bingsu at Ele (f.k.a. Cafe Muse) down the block from Koryodang? A sign on the door touts it as "famous," whatever that means.

                            31 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                            43 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

                            1. re: squid kun

                              ya i been waiting to try it but when I went a few weeks ago, they said it wasn't ready yet so at least they are staying "true" by offering it only during the warmer months. all I know is that it's $12, served in a giant martini glass and has cereal. that'll be my next bing soo!

                                1. re: bigjeff

                                  It's "only" $7 for takeout. I popped my head in to take a look and decided to skip in in favor of the bing soo at Koryodang ($6 for the traditional red bean and ice cream and fruit combo.) Still good.

                            2. re: gimmeecake


                              got any other good tips on bingsoo around the city? any borough (well, excluding fort lee). the dessert described by uwsgrazer didn't have any fresh fruit, which is the signature difference of bingsoo, right?

                            3. are you saying you're looking for a new place aside from Penang? cendol also has the gelatinous stuff in it. you can see their menu on
                              And at Penang you can get just dessert. I've done that before.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sedela

                                sedela, is Cendol the name of the restaurant? I couldn't find it on menupages or even in a google search

                                1. re: uwsgrazer

                                  cendol's the name of the dessert, actually.

                                  cafe swish up by columbia has cendol, along with colored jelly drinks and shaved ice with various toppings. i've never had any of the above, there, though and remember the savory food being pretty poor.

                                  1. re: cimui

                                    Thanks, cimui. I'll have to check out Swish again the next time I'm up there. I've had the bubble tea before and ate dinner there once. It was okay but I guess since I never returned that is revealing.

                                    1. re: cimui

                                      been eating lot's of cendol; the one at new malaysia is served in a parfait glass, the one at java village in elmhurst is a drink with no shaved ice, and so far, the one at singapore cafe is the favorite; shave ice with red bean, the sugar syrup, along with condensed milk and the cendol bits. know of any other good ones? how about the one at laut; fancy? or skyway's?

                                2. FYI halo halo will be available at the Phillipine Independence Day Festival on June 7.

                                  June 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Avenue between 24th and 26th Streets