Many of our readers enjoy Chinese food and NYC’s Chinatown, but have you tried any of the traditional Chinese desserts? If you are visiting NYC’s Chinatown, you will find several bakeries that offer the typical Chinese desserts. These desserts usually have ingredients such as red bean, coconut and black sesame; you will find that they are very different from the classic French or Italian desserts that you may already enjoy. If you have never tried any of these Chinese desserts such as an egg tart then you are really missing out! Here are Ahoy New York Food Tour’s favorite Chinese desserts and the bakeries where you can find them in Chinatown, NYC.
Almond cookies are often served with oranges after a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant especially during Chinese New Year but to be honest they are great at all times of the day and all times of the year. The almond cookies are somewhat sweet and nutty and in all of its crumbly goodness, they are quite addictive. Almond cookies can be found out Golden Fung Wong Bakery (41 Mott St) who also happens to make the best mooncakes in Chinatown.
Egg Tart is a flaky crust filled with egg custard and then baked. They are incredibly delicious and they are best when they are straight out of the oven and slightly warm. Egg tarts are for sale in practically every Chinese bakery and Dim Sum restaurant but one that does stand out is Tai Pan Bakery (194 Canal St).
Red Bean Coconut Cake
Red bean is the star ingredient in many traditional Chinese desserts. It offers a different sweetness to the dish. We especially love red bean coconut cakes but other common uses for red bean include a sweet red bean soup (served hot or cold) and a refreshing red bean ice. Red bean coconut cake is a bit harder to find than the other snacks and desserts on this list but one place that always has it is Deluxe Food Market (79 Elizabeth St).
Peanut Rice Ball
Peanut rice ball is sweet sticky rice with crushed peanut inside and often coated with coconut on the outside. It has a unique glutinous texture and it can be a bit messy but it is well worth it. One of our favorite places for peanut rice balls is Canal Bakery (242 Canal St).
Grass jelly is like Chinese Jell-O but it much more depth of flavor and it isn’t overpowered with sweetness. It is great with a little sugar syrup and it is perfect on a hot summer’s day. We recommend Fong Inn Too (46 Mott St) for grass jelly. It is a local hotspot and they have been in business for seemingly forever.
Sai Mai Lo
Sai mai lo is a tapioca pudding but the Hong Kong style sai mai lo is more of a tapioca and coconut drink or soup. It can be served hot or cold and we love it both ways. The sai mai lo is great after a huge lobster feast at Lobster Boat aka East Boat Restaurant (11 Mott St).
Other notable Chinese desserts include black sesame soup, steamed white rice cakes and mooncakes. The Mid- Autumn Festival aka The Mooncake Festival actually started 9/19/13 so there is no better time to try one than now!