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May 24, 2011 11:12 AM

Lychees! Chinatown! Hooray!

Got my first lychees of the season in Chinatown on Sunday - very nice ones and only $2.50 a pound for the loose kind. They also had the "chicken tongue" pointier ones on the branches at $9.00 a pound - the pits in those are much smaller (the nickname refers to the pits). Go get 'em!

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  1. Any idea how long the season is? I know it's pretty short, like less than 2 months, right?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Peter Cherches

      You usually see them at least through July, with the quality usually much diminished as the time goes on. The redder they are, the fresher.

    2. Thank you for posting this, I love Lychee Season. I have a question regarding the chicken tongue variety. What is the difference in taste? $9.00 is pricey.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MVNYC

        The pit is much smaller and they are therefore more fleshy, but the taste is pretty much the same. You still make out better with the cheaper ones. By the way the "chicken tongue" and information on color reflecting freshness come from jumpingmonk, the prime contributor to the Chinatown fruit report thread. Thanks, jumpingmonk!

        1. re: buttertart

          Thanks for the description. I will probably just stick to the regular kind. Also thanks for posting this in a separate thread, the main fruit report one has gotten too long for me at this point.

            1. re: buttertart

              also, be sure to ask for the country of origin! i find the taiwnese ones to be the best. Floridian and mexican tend to be decent as well. i would avoid anything from mainalnd china. they tend to be less fragrant and sometimes have a weird odor

              1. re: FattyDumplin

                I haven't seen any advertised to be from the PRC. The Taiwan ones are lovely.

      2. I am now regretting that I didn't buy any lychees or mangoes when I was NYC Chinatown this past weekend. We were walking everywhere and I didn't want to carry them. I saw beautiful ones on Sunday as well. Maybe we even passed each other on the busy street!

        Anyway, I did have lychee sorbet at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and it was delicious. Essence of lychee completely infused the sorbet.

        Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
        65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

        1 Reply
        1. re: beetlebug

          Maybe so! That sorbet is very nice. Come to think of it, so are frozen lychees...

        2. Continuing the fruit theme even if this is a bit off topic, has anyone ever seen Loquats for sale in Chinatown? I had this fruit for the first time in Italy (where they are known as "nespole") a few weeks ago and am now in full-fledged withdrawal. Thanks!

          9 Replies
          1. re: erica

            Yes, last Sunday, in plastic clamshell boxes on a stand along Canal (just before Mulberry going away from the bridge, south side of the street).

            1. re: buttertart

              Wonderful! And I commend you on your detailed reporting here and on other threads!

              1. re: buttertart

                Report back on the loquats: I found them at two vendors along the south side of Canal west of Mulberry. (There may well be other sources but I did not look after buying). Very friendly young woman at one stand showed me the box that they had arrived in--they are imported from southern Spain. Both vendors priced loose fruit at $6 per pound. They are good but less juicy than I had hoped and I will not buy them again at that price.

                1. re: erica

                  They're not one of my favorites so I never buy them. The ones in Taipei were good but nothing to write home about either, like a mild apricot.
                  Lychees were 3 lbs for $10 this weekend ($8 from the lady at the corner of Mulberry and Canal, whose stand was mobbed at about 3:30 Sunday afternoon) for both loose and on branches.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    A mild apricot--that is exactly what these tasted like. The ones I had in Italy, also imported from Spain until the local crop is ready, were much juicier. At $6 per pound, just not worth it. Are these (loquats) very common in Taiwan? I thought they were an Italian specialty (they seemed to be at every food market I visited in Puglia last month) but when I showed them to the folks at Joe's on Sullivan Street, they had never seen them before.

                    1. re: erica

                      They're definitely of Chinese origin. They had great heaps of them at the fruit markets there in season (which is quite extended as I recall). The Chinese name for them is pipa (the name of the Chinese lute they resemble), incidentally.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        But get some lychees, they are the most delightful fruit.

                      2. re: erica

                        We grew loquats in Miami, where I grow up. And people have them in their yards here in California. They don't survive very well, so there's little commercial market and if you're buying them in NYC, they were probably picked before they were ripe.

                        I've always described the flavor and texture as a cross between a peach and a mild melon.

                        I'm curious that lychees are grown in Florida. Haven't ever seen US fruit.