It seems like trendy ice cream shops are popping up all over the place these days. Instead of chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and rocky road being the cool, adventurous flavors, today we have things like salted caramel, blackberry, and honey as the norm. Which means that modern day unusual flavors end up being anything from beet to goat cheese to olive oil. While I’ve seen and tried quite a few crazy flavors over my days as a self-diagnosed ice cream addict, I’ve never been to place like Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
At this ice cream establishment, many of the flavors have a distinctly Asian influence. Yes, that seems obvious based on the location and the name, but what exactly are Asian dessert flavors? It’s actually pretty funny because on their website they separate their flavors by either exotic or regular. The ones under “exotic” are things like vanilla fudge, pumpkin pie, banana, and cherry vanilla. And the “regular” kinds? Well those aren’t so “regular” to the average Joe. There’s…
- Almond Cookie
- Black Sesame
- Coconut Fudge
- Egg Custard
- Green Tea
- Pandan (Malaysian leaf)
- Red Bean
- Zen Butter (peanut butter with toasted sesame seeds)
Clearly things get defined a little differently in the world of Chinatown.
The place itself is small, narrow, and plain, and a long counter where you order takes up most of the space inside. The menu and prices are written on a white board on the wall and otherwise there’s not much else to catch the eye. Definitely not fancy or decorated by any means, but don’t let that turn you off. Like many restaurants and stores in Chinatown, judging by looks won’t get you very far. And here, the real excitement is in the ice cream itself.
As with a majority of places in Chinatown, it’s cash only so be prepared. A single scoop will run you about $4, which is not necessarily cheap, but for such a unique product I don’t mind. You also have the option to get a cup or a cone “half and half” which just means that you can get two flavors even when you order a single scoop, instead of having to get/pay for two scoops of each.
While I love green tea, mango, and ube ice cream, I really wanted to try something completely out of the ordinary when I went here, something I’ve never seen anywhere else, so I got half red bean and half lychee in a cup. The lychee was light and refreshing and the red bean definitely captured that flavor I love so much in Chinese pastries and buns.
I’ve heard that the almond cookie, black sesame, and pandan flavors are exceptional so those will be on my list the next visit here. And don’t forget that you’re free to sample anything! I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to order a whole scoop of soy sauce ice cream, but when it comes down to free samples I’m game for anything. And you should be too. I suggest starting with the Khalessi Lychee special “Game of Cones” flavor. Yup, it’s a thing.
Half red bean, half lychee
65 Bayard St.
New York, NY 10013