So you’ve just eaten a scrumptious meal in Chinatown and want dessert. You’re not in the mood for Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and want something besides sweet pastries or breads. What should you get? How about soup?
I’m serious! There is such a thing as sago soup, or sai mai lou, and it’s kind of like tapioca pudding (“sago” is pearl tapioca). It belongs in a category called tong sui, which literally means “sugar water” and is any sweet soup or custard served as dessert at the end of a Cantonese meal.
InDessert has a wide selection of tong sui to choose from including red bean paste soup, stewed papaya snow fungus and almond soup, and their most popular, mango pomelo sago soup (pomelo is a citrus fruit comparable to grapefruit). For some of the options, you get to decide if you want it hot or cold. Because I was a sago soup-newbie, I went with the mango pomelo. If any kind of sago soup was going to convert me, chances are it would be the signature one!
My first reaction was wow, my sago soup is pretty! The bright yellow from the mango and the soft pink of the pomelo really made for a photogenic dessert. But we all know that food isn’t just about looks. What about the TASTE?! Well, it tastes just like you expect fruit soup to taste, sweet with a little bit of tang, plus the added chewy tapioca pearls and chunks of fruit. If you’re trying to find something sweet to eat that isn’t too heavy or it’s a hot summer day and you’re in the area, it’s a great, refreshing option.
My mom had one that was coconut-flavored (bottom right), which reminded her of a Filipino dish called ginataan. My friend had the red bean one (top right) because it was one of the few options without dairy. InDessert does offer things besides sago soup like shaved ice and grass jelly bowls as well as things like what my friends got–chocolate cake with ice cream (top left) and a banana split sundae-like dessert (on the left). My friend who ordered the sundae saw someone get this and bring it back to their table, and he was basically like “I need that” even though he had no idea what it was. Needless to say, he licked the bowl clean.
Judging from Yelp, other items that are popular here are the green tea waffles and the shaved ice with green tea ice cream and red bean. Want to let you in on a handy little Yelp trick I have? When you’re at a restaurant and want to know what’s good to get without having to read through all the reviews, just take a quick glance at the photos and see what dishes keep popping up. Odds are those are the good ones.
The great thing about InDessert is that it’s pretty spacious for a dessert place in the area and has a good amount of seating. You know…I remember that when I went a few weeks ago, they actually still had Christmas decorations up. Hey, maybe that’s just their style.
Mango and pomelo sago soup
1 E Broadway
New York, NY 10038