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black sesame ice cream/bubble tea and egg custards? where!

Strangette Jan 11, 2009 10:21 PM

HI All,

From New Orleans, and loving NYC!!!!! even though it's freezing.

Anyways, I've been to Flushing and Chinatown but it's still hard for me to find black sesame bubble tea. I know, must be a weird flavor. I had one at Sago in Flushing, and all they did was put black sesame powder (I think) in the milk tea - not what I was expecting.

So if one of you out there loves black sesame as much as me, please fill me in on where I can get it in bubble tea form. Also any areas where they serve the sago pearls (the small clear tapioca pearls) instead of the regular bubbles? (largeer black tapioca pearls).

AND, if you have an opinion on the BEST EGG CUSTARD TARTS, please do tell. I want the kind that has a flaky crust. I have not run into any so far.

Oh, while I'm asking and u're still reading - where can I get really good tofu hua? You know the homemade tofu that is silken and comes with the sweet ginger syrup? Served hot?? It's a chinese dessert. Toufa.

Appreciate it guys. THANKS!

  1. h
    HLing Jan 12, 2009 12:25 AM

    If you can find it:

    嘉華麵包屋 (might be "Ga Hua", or "Ka Wha" in English)
    9 Eldridge St.
    New York, NY 10002

    It's a tiny mom & pop bakery (you take a couple of steps down to go into the shop)that's been open since 1988. I've only had their mini-egg custard tarts with flaky crusts and just sweet enough custard once and have been trying to go back and get more to no avail. Usually i'm just too late getting there before they close, though one time they were sold out. This place reminds me of the delicious egg tarts i've had in Hong Kong. I also loved their slightly over-baked walnut cookies. Another must have for me are the flat round soft earlobe-like white (made of sticky rice flour) ground peanut-filled dumpling-like things - the ground peanuts are always just slightly over-baked, too (in a good way, as you can probably gather) and mixed with some coconuts; the sticky rice dough is perfect because it's about 1/4 inch thick, and doesn't stick to the teeth.. and somehow if not finished on the same day, doesn't turn hard the next day.

    For Black sesame stuff you might want to try Ren Ren who supposedly makes their own. Most of the other bubble tea places use pre-made powder. Again, this place is not a chain, so you might have better luck. To get the little clear tapioca pearls ask for Xi1 Mi3 Lu4.

    In Flushing for tofu Hua ...last time I was in Flushing was a while ago, but Soybean Chen on Roosevelt between Main and Prince should still be good. It's a flower shop with a little stand for take out only. Nice ginger syrup. I like to pay a little extra for the soft boiled peanuts to add to the dou Hua.

    23 Replies
    1. re: HLing
      Strangette Jan 12, 2009 08:35 PM

      thanks Hling, and to everyone else~ i'm definitely gonna try the mentioned here. the ice cream factory is on my list. hehe

      1. re: Strangette
        Lau Jan 14, 2009 06:24 PM

        agree on soy bean chan...here is my write up on it:

      2. re: HLing
        albh Jan 16, 2009 05:40 AM

        I love how Strangette's requests are almost exactly what I'm looking for too (flaky crust egg tarts and xi mi lu), posted mere days before I came looking.

        Just to confirm, Ren Ren has xi mi lu?


        1. re: albh
          Lau Jan 16, 2009 07:17 AM

          ohhh xi mi lu...i havent had that in a really long time, if its any good please let me know

          1. re: albh
            HLing Jan 16, 2009 09:22 AM

            albh, I meant in my reply to ask for the smaller pearly "xi mi lu" instead of the big frog-eye ball looking "bobba" wherever one gets bubble teas or chinese desserts. I didn't mean that Ren Ren has it only.

            Often in Chinese restaurants they will serve a small bowl of slightly warmed red bean coconut xi mi lu after the meal. This is usually if you order a set menu for a group of people, where fresh fruit and desserts are included - and xi mi lu would be the sweet soup, the dessert.

            1. re: HLing
              albh Jan 17, 2009 06:48 AM

              thanks HLing! while I was in CA, I found a lot of boba shops didn't have small pearl tapioca / xi mi lu, so i had assumed that many out here don't either. Any other suggestions where I might find it?

              i'm familiar with what xi mi lu actually is, if i could order little bowls of that alone i'd like that too, but i don't think anybody actually does that? haha

              also, i can't seem to find a ren ren... where is it? or is it a ten ren? (ten rens in CA also don't serve xi mi lu).


              1. re: albh
                HLing Jan 24, 2009 09:59 PM

                albh, sorry about my lapse in reply..also about my blind spot about "Yuen Yuen" (not ren ren) restaurant - my "internal memory chip" is forever messed up about this place's name. http://www.chow.com/places/16779

                Also, the poster "fried chicken" mentioned "One Plus One" at 150 Centre street having the small tapioca pearls. I think that was the place that used to be the HK Hui Lau shan copy called "Healthy Dessert" that served the most delicious Chinese fresh fruit/ tapioca desserts. Then it became called "Whatever", which still had most of the refreshing desserts, and now "One Plus One" which I've not yet been. If they didn't change people, they would have xi mi lu for sure. Please report back if you go. Thanks!

                1. re: HLing
                  albh Jan 31, 2009 01:27 PM

                  No worries HLing, I only now checked back, so we're roughly equally lapsing haha.

                  I actually came across a place that served xi mi lu to go! it's the cafe to the right of vivi, i don't recall the name at the moment.

                  i will be in chinatown tomorrow, and will definitely check out yuen yuen and/or one plus one, and probably this taipan for their egg custard tarts.

                  btw, bakery town had, by far, the best egg tarts in NYC i've experienced. still not quite as good as the best in LA or the Bay Area, but excellent nonetheless.

                  1. re: albh
                    HLing Jan 31, 2009 08:41 PM

                    albh, I'm glad you liked Bakery Town's egg tarts, too! It's always nice to have confirmation for something like this, so that I know I wasn't just imagining things. One point for the mom & pop shops.

                    I'm curious what you consider the best in LA and/or the Bay Area are. Just so i'll have some places to go if I ever get over to the west coast.

                    1. re: HLing
                      Lau Feb 1, 2009 10:01 AM

                      great call on Bakery Town, I walked in today and got two of the small sized dan tat...very good, probably some of the best (if not that best) that i've had in manhattan chinatown. Great flaky crust that isn't too dry or too buttery and the filling was the right eggy mixture that isnt too sweet. also got some yuen yang cha (coffee / tea mix), which was excellent as well

                      kind of a weird place for a cantonese bakery in the middle of the all the fujian restaurants / stores, but sounds like it was there well before they were there

                      looking forward to trying their other pastries

                      1. re: HLing
                        albh Feb 12, 2009 06:28 AM

                        so i went to one plus one last weekend. the tapioca was good but i found the taro smoothie i got to be gross. pretty sure it was powder and not fresh taro.

                        i saw yuen yuen / ren ren on my way back to the subway station. i plan on going there on my next trip to chinatown.

                        1. re: albh
                          HLing Feb 12, 2009 09:03 AM

                          Thanks for the California recs and the report on one plus one, albh! It sounds like one plus one isn't at all the same people as the previous "Healthy Dessert" and " Whatever" because one thing they never had was taro smoothie. They only had on the menu during the winter a hot coconut milk dessert w/some taro and chestnuts but that was often unavailable when ordered.

                        2. re: HLing
                          Lau Feb 24, 2009 11:26 AM

                          btw I've been going to Bakery Town pretty much every weekend and I agree by a long shot I think thse are the best dan tat I've had in mahattan...I particularly like the small ones

                          The crust is perfect, crispy and flaky, but not dry and the filling is great, not too sweet nto too mushy. They also burn the tops a little like the portuguese style ones you get in HK or Macau...very good

                          1. re: Lau
                            HLing Feb 26, 2009 12:05 AM

                            Lau, I'm glad we feel the same way about the egg tarts. And really, it's very good of you to take on the duty of the egg tart tasting every weekend :)

                            If you're there early enough, would you mind trying their Cha Shao Bao, too? Just wondering how they'd do theirs.

                            1. re: HLing
                              Lau Feb 26, 2009 07:07 AM

                              its a tough job! haha

                              i tried to last time, but they ran out (it was pretty early too like 11am)...its definitely my list

                              1. re: HLing
                                Lau Apr 13, 2009 07:49 AM

                                i keep trying to get their cha shao bao, but they never have it so i sort of gave up

                                i tried their gai mei bao (ji wei bao / cocktail bun), its alright, but MLW's is better

                                1. re: Lau
                                  HLing Apr 13, 2009 12:52 PM

                                  Lau, your dedication deserves an all around applause. Maybe it's just as well to leave it to the imagination? I did see the man taking out a huge chunk of pork one day so at least my guess it that it's made in house....someday someone will get to try it.

                                  Bigjeff, "rustic" goes with mom & pop for sure. I can't go to that street without getting my favorite fujian fish balls soup from one of the neighboring places.

                                  1. re: HLing
                                    Lau Apr 13, 2009 03:16 PM

                                    haha thanks

                                    btw do you find any of the fish balls to be superior at any of the fujian restaurants?

                                    1. re: Lau
                                      HLing Apr 15, 2009 10:34 AM

                                      hmm, i consider myself a semi-retired chowhound these days so i can't say i eat out all that much any more. If i'm in chinatown i usually get my $1 jumbo hot dog that has been good again recently, and then the fish balls if i make it over there. To me the fish balls and dumplings and noodles are best if they are the only thing, as opposed to from a full blown restaurant, just because it's just that kind of food, you know? I've been getting my fish balls from this downstairs place on Eldridge on the same block of the bakery we've been talking about. I know, there are 2 or 3 such places, and I think the one i like is the smallest place (probably furthest left when facing the row) that's a long narrow space, dimly lit, seating only on either side of the wall. I like the quality of their fish balls as well as the slightly tart broth that it comes in. It does something for me..the simply and clear way.

                                      1. re: HLing
                                        Lau Apr 15, 2009 10:55 AM

                                        ahh you have been gone from the boards..its too bad!

                                        but yeah ive been meaning to try some of those places, but i always get sidetracked for niu rou mian usually

                                        1. re: Lau
                                          bigjeff Apr 15, 2009 01:15 PM

                                          so Lau, where do you get sidetracked to for niu rou mian? I've seen your comments about a lack of good broth; you are in the Food Sing 88 camp I think?

                                          1. re: bigjeff
                                            Lau Apr 15, 2009 03:07 PM

                                            well you do have to settle to a certain degree, none of the places on an absolute basis are great (sometimes I forget that and then go to a proper taiwanese noodle house in LA and it jogs my memory very quickly...although nowhere compares to taiwan obviously for NRM)

                                            usually i go to super taste (strictly b/c they have a spicy broth) or 144 ebway, who i like the best of the bunch

                                            i've only been to food sing 88 a while ago and i wasnt that big a fan, but to be fair i should go back and decide what i think

                                            what about you?

                2. re: HLing
                  bigjeff Apr 13, 2009 06:20 AM

                  went last week and caught the last 3 around 6pm; they were good, very . . . shall we say, rustic? eggy, not as thick as I was expecting, the crust was good, definitely smaller but more bite-sized; enjoyed popping them in my mouth. at 60 cents, delish with good flavor. not sure it beats all but, tasty nonetheless and a nice spot to go after sampling various fujian noodles and dumplings.

                3. p
                  Pan Jan 12, 2009 01:32 AM

                  If you post(ed) on the Outer Boroughs board, I'll give you some advice for Flushing.

                  1. D...DF Jan 12, 2009 07:33 AM

                    I like the Black Sesame ice cream from Sundaes and Cones in the EV.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: D...DF
                      oystersallday Jan 12, 2009 12:48 PM

                      doesn't chinatown ice cream factory do black sesame ice cream?

                      1. re: oystersallday
                        Pan Jan 12, 2009 02:01 PM

                        Yeah, and it's pretty good.

                        1. re: oystersallday
                          wew Jan 12, 2009 02:23 PM

                          Black Sesame Soft ice cream at 41 st between 5 ave. and 6 ave.

                          1. re: wew
                            abud Jan 13, 2009 09:57 AM

                            Wew! What's the name of the place on 41st?

                            1. re: abud
                              citysweettooth Jan 13, 2009 11:21 AM

                              I think this may be referring to Cafe Zaiya where I've seen black sesame ice cream advertised, but never tried it...

                              1. re: citysweettooth
                                Miss Needle Jan 13, 2009 11:33 AM

                                I'm pretty sure it's Cafe Zaiya (which is on 41st Street between Madison and 5th). 41st Street between 5th and 6th is Bryant Park.

                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                  D...DF Jan 13, 2009 12:15 PM

                                  They also have an East Village on Cooper Square between 7th and St. Marks.

                                  1. re: D...DF
                                    Miss Needle Jan 13, 2009 12:22 PM

                                    Yes, there's a location there. There's also another location in a Japanese bookstore on 6th Ave and 40th Street.

                                  2. re: Miss Needle
                                    wew Jan 25, 2009 10:18 AM

                                    Thank you for the cafe name and correction. I hope I caused little difficulty.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                      bigjeff Feb 12, 2009 03:33 PM

                                      I just had a black sesame cream puff from the beard papa in cafe zaiya in midtown. yum.

                          2. p
                            Pan Jan 14, 2009 01:12 PM

                            I'm not sure whether this is strictly relevant, but Soba Koh serves a delicious black sesame pudding with red bean sauce that packs a powerful but well-balanced flavor. 309 E. 5 St., just east of 2nd Av., closed Mondays.

                            Interestingly enough, menupages mentions a 12-3 brunch on weekends. Soba Koh is otherwise open only for dinner. Have any of you been there for brunch? What's their brunch menu like?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pan
                              drumwine Jan 14, 2009 06:57 PM

                              had a great black sesame gelato at Il Lab.....

                            2. o
                              orthorunner Jan 14, 2009 07:11 PM

                              black sesame ice cream, along with other interesting rotating flavors, at kyotofu. It's soft serve and really good. try a chocolate cupcake while there-you won't regret it

                              1. b
                                billyeats Jan 16, 2009 09:14 AM

                                I second the Sundaes & Cones rec. Their black sesame ice cream is outstanding, as is most anything else there including the pumpkin, corn, and banana flavors.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: billyeats
                                  ruavidiot Feb 1, 2009 08:06 AM

                                  Sundaes and Cones has really great black sesame and ube/taro ice cream.

                                2. f
                                  fried_chicken Jan 24, 2009 08:25 PM

                                  One Plus One Cafe has the small tapioca balls, but you have to ask for them specifically.

                                  Fong Inn Too has the tofu, but I haven't actually tried it.

                                  Taipan has a variety of egg custard tarts (both flaky and not and the Portuguese ones) that are quite popular.

                                  One Plus One
                                  150 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

                                  Tai Pan Bakery
                                  194 Canal St, New York, NY 10013

                                  Fong Inn Too
                                  46 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                  1. doug butler Jan 24, 2009 11:37 PM

                                    chinatown ice cream factory is our favorite for black sesame ice cream

                                    1. s
                                      sugartoof Feb 25, 2009 01:02 AM

                                      Kind of obvious, but Egg Custard King for the tarts, or Tai Pan around the corner on Canal. Usually one of the two is really good on any given day, especially if you catch them when they're still warm out of the oven. I find the Portuguese have the most flavor, and flakiest crust. (has to be the egg custard king location where you walk down the stairs)

                                      Saint Alp's has the Black Sesame boba/bubble tea. There are a few locations around the city. Pretty sure the Chinatown location is still there.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                        Pan Feb 25, 2009 11:50 PM

                                        Saint's Alp on Mott St. is now called Teariffic, but the menu is very similar to Saint's Alp on 3rd Av. between 9th and 10th.

                                      2. m
                                        MustLoveFood Feb 26, 2009 12:00 PM

                                        Best Black Sesame Seed Ice Cream you'll ever have:
                                        Laboratorio Del Gelato

                                        95 Orchard St
                                        New York, NY 10002
                                        (212) 343-9922

                                        1. c
                                          cimui Aug 9, 2009 09:17 PM

                                          I just had the black sesame ice cream at Sundaes and Cones (per D...DF, Billyeats and ruavidiot's suggestions) and strongly echo the recommendation. The texture and temperature were perfect: a wee bit melty and just warm enough to really emphasize the flavors, but not too melty. Flavors were vivid and clean. Servings were generously sized. (The staff were also super nice about my friends and me trying a few flavors before we picked.)

                                          Other interesting flavors there included wasabi (lovely texture, mild but clean wasabi flavor, which would've been lovely with something else, but didn't do it for me, alone), ginger, honeydew and lychee.

                                          I'm surprised this place hasn't gotten more attention!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: cimui
                                            D...DF Aug 9, 2009 09:25 PM

                                            Glad you enjoyed. They also do an awesomely juvenile "Sherbet Freeze." Choice of sherbet(s), blended with an ice and a few dashes of Sprite. Great.

                                            1. re: D...DF
                                              cimui Aug 9, 2009 10:47 PM

                                              Oh -- that sounds fantastic, especially with the grapefruit sorbet I tried!

                                              I was pretty distracted in there (by four very excited friends tasting ice cream left and right), but it looked like they had smoothies, too. Definitely a place I want to come back to. I think Sundaes and Cones is to ice cream what Il Lab is to gelato.

                                            2. re: cimui
                                              cimui Aug 9, 2009 09:43 PM


                                              Sundaes and Cones
                                              95 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

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