NYCGuide

The Best Asian Dessert Spots In NYC

All the jiggly cheesecake, egg tarts, and rainbow kuih your heart desires.
Dessert and drinks at Gong Gan.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Is matcha your preferred shade of green, or do you prefer pandan? Whether your speed is more tray-and-tongs Chinatown bakery, or trompe l'oeil corn mousse at a Korean patisserie, you'll find an abundance of Asian desserts in NYC to satisfy every sweet tooth. There are more buns, doughnuts, and puddings than we could ever cover in a single list (see our separate guides for shaved ice and boba). But these are some of our favorite spots—for Chinese egg tarts and Japanese cheesecake, Korean croffles and Malaysian kuih, plus specialties from Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Willa Moore

Vietnamese

Carroll Gardens

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastCoffee & A Light Bite

If you’re a certified pandan lover, it’s best to come to Bạn Bè on a Saturday. Because even though the majority of the menu at the Vietnamese-American bakery is pandan-forward and very green, it’s only on Saturdays that you’ll be able to get a slice of bánh bò nướng, an ultra-chewy pandan honeycomb cake that is as gorgeous to look at as it is delicious. Pair it with a pandan coconut waffle and a viet iced coffee at this walk-up window in Carroll Gardens, and then eat it on a small plastic stool in front.

If you’re dating someone—or are friends with someone, or have even just briefly met someone—who loves Japanese-inspired sweets, text them right now and make a plan to go to Patisserie Tomoko. This airy dessert bar in Williamsburg offers three desserts for $29.50 on weekends, and a tempting a la carte selection of mille-crepe cake slices, macarons, mochi, and more any day of the week. Virtually everything we’ve tried here has been exquisite, but the delicate dacquoise cookie sandwiches (with black sesame, yuzu, or green tea creme filling) are a standout among standouts.

Kuih Cafe is strictly a Friday-through-Sunday operation, which makes sense, seeing as how it’s pretty much a one-woman show. The owner, Veronica Gan, had a tough time finding kuih in NYC, so she opened this shop on the Lower East Side with a rotating selection of Malaysian desserts, typically made with rice flour. Check Instagram to see what’s available—pastel blue pulut tai tai or pandan chiffon cake, for example—and be sure to get a slice of the daily cheesecake.

photo credit: Molly Fitzpatrick

$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light Bite

Xin Fa makes our favorite Portuguese-style egg tarts. The pastry crust is gorgeously flaky. The custard filling is silky, jiggly and barely set, with a perfectly caramelized surface. There will likely be a line (sometimes all the way out the door) at this Sunset Park spot, but Xin Fa is a well-oiled machine and you won’t have to wait too long. Besides, it’s worth it: Eating one of these egg tarts still hot from the oven is a borderline religious experience. The palm-sized treats are $1.75 each, but you’re going to want to leave here with a full box of six.

We never leave Lady Wong in the East Village without ordering a piece of steamed rainbow kuih, a chewy, bouncy treat that’ll leave your fingers slightly sticky with coconut flavor. And that’s just the dessert we eat in three bites inside the store. The Southeast Asian patisserie also has some elaborate tarts, swiss rolls, and layered crepe cakes. It’s a pocket-sized space with just a couple of bar stools, so plan on taking your pastries to go. They also have an outpost in the Urban Hawker food hall.

Duo Cafe in the East Village is a perfect spot to drink Chinese tea on a lazy rainy afternoon. In the cement-gray space, pick from around 15 tea options by sniffing canisters of leaves while French jazz plays over the sound of students gossiping. The handwritten dessert menu consists mainly of matcha cookies and creamy, tea-and-fruit-infused cheesecakes and mousses. Make the perfect pairing: like black tea basque cheesecake with a milky oolong, or smoky lapsang souchong with a caramelized sweet potato and vanilla ice cream.

photo credit: Molly Fitzpatrick

$$$$Perfect For:Dessert

When we walked into this tiny Bensonhurst dessert shop and smelled durian, we immediately knew we were in for a good time. For fellow enthusiasts of the fragrant king of fruits, we recommend the creamy, blended Durian Supreme, a tong sui loaded with tiny tapioca pearls. The taro balls are housemade, and Me-Do’s refreshing ice jellies are their bestsellers in the summer heat, but our favorite menu item here might be the snow white base—a lightly coconutty ice cream-like pudding—topped with fresh mango and purple glutinous rice.

“Kape’t torta” means “coffee and cakes,” and our cake of choice at this Filipino bakery in Elmhurst is the soft, spongy torta mamón. It’s airy, but also a bit denser than your usual sponge cake, so it’s easier to dunk in a cup of extra-strong kapeng barako, the other part of the equation. There’s plenty of sweet stuff for ube-heads—or get your purple pastry fix from the ube pandesal, stuffed with cheese. There are some tables to hang out inside, and you can do some light grocery shopping for Filipino sauces and snacks.

If you’ve ever wished you could eat food from a cartoon in real life, Gong Gan is the place. This quirky Korean cafe-slash-natural wine bar in Flushing (right next door to Chong Qing Lao Zao—the itinerary writes itself) serves up spectacles like a psychedelic rainbow cake, doused tableside in layer after layer of colorful white chocolate, and a meringue mushroom-dotted sweet potato cheesecake that looks like it was swiped from the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. Gong Gan’s equally playful drinks and coffee menu is also worth a look. The (non-alcoholic) Gosu Ade is sweet, refreshing, and herbaceous, and served with an entire bunch of cilantro dramatically blooming out from the glass. (We took ours home and made dinner with it.)

At this dessert gallery in Flatiron, pastry-making is a high art. You’ll find things like corn mousse cake that looks like an actual ear of corn, or their signature Lysée, a delicate Korean cake made of toasted brown rice and pecan. You might have to wait in an hour-long line, but treat this place like a real restaurant and it’ll be worth it. Get your food to stay, and use a gold fork to eat. They sometimes even have some savory items, like a leek quiche served with creme fraiche sauce in a porcelain creamer.

photo credit: Willa Moore

For a slightly sweet, ultra-soft treat in Chinatown, head to Fong On, a family-run, tofu-making institution in Chinatown that originally opened on Mott Street in 1933. Order the tofu pudding, swimming in brown sugar syrup and topped with boba, rainbow jelly, and red beans, then marvel at the number of soft and bouncy textures they manage to fit all in one small cup. Fong On also makes pudding with savory toppings—like dried shrimp, and sesame oil—in case you need dinner and dessert. (That is what you need.)

Khao Nom in Elmhurst is from the folks behind Khao Kang, one of the top Thai spots in NYC. Unlike its sister restaurant, this place has a vast selection of desserts, which range from taro custard and steamed pumpkin cake to sticky rice and coconut pancakes. You’ll see them lined up at the counter all packed up and ready to go. Grab as much as you can carry, starting with the pandan crepes.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Here it is, The Infatuation’s foolproof, three-step guide to becoming the most popular person in your workplace. Step 1: Get off the subway at Canal Street and walk a block to Spongies Cafe. Step 2: Pick up a dozen assorted Hong Kong-style steamed sponge cakes (you can’t go wrong with any of the flavors, but we really dig the Lovely Butterscotch) for the eye-poppingly reasonable price of $15, neatly packaged in a cute pink box. Step 3: Bask in the adoration of your colleagues, and enjoy the moist, satisfyingly squishy cakes with coffee or tea.

photo credit: Grace Street Cafe

$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light Bite

This Korean coffeehouse with spacious cafeteria-style seating is open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, making it an ideal post-dinner (or maybe even post-karaoke) stop in Koreatown. Don't skip the hotteok, a Korean street food that falls somewhere between  pancake and doughnut. The warm brown sugar, walnut, and cinnamon filling oozes out from the flaky pastry, mixing and mingling with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The O.G., Grace Street’s black sesame shaved snow, is an irresistible textural playground, loaded with mochi, red beans, strawberries, and malty, nutty misugaru. You’ll be pretty full between those two, but why not not take a mini burnt basque cheesecake to go?

photo credit: Kate Previte

Do you remember the moment in Jurassic Park when the girl’s spoonful of green jello trembles wildly as she spots a velociraptor? Here’s our pitch for the (next) reboot: Same exact moment, but swap in some equally jiggly—and significantly more delicious—bouncy Osaka-style cheesecake. We nominate Keki, a bakery with locations in Chinatown and Koreatown, as the on-set supplier. Their cheesecakes—available in two flavors, original and ube—are more or less what we imagine biting into a cloud would feel like.

Unlike most of the places on this list, Kora doesn’t have a physical storefront. In order to get a box of their Filipino-ish doughnuts, visit their website when orders open on Saturdays at 12pm, then pick up your desserts the next Saturday at their makeshift window in Long Island City. The process is kind of a hassle, but it’s 100% worth it. At $37.50 for a box of five, the doughnuts aren’t the cheapest in the city—but you aren’t going to mistake this place for Dunkin’. Past highlights have included a brioche doughnut with a whole flan embedded in the middle, and a perfect, sticky ube doughnut stuffed with ube custard.

photo credit: Molly Fitzpatrick

$$$$Perfect For:Dessert

First there was the cronut, and then the croffle. Flushing has its own bakery specializing in this South Korean food trend, which involves pressing shaped croissant dough in a waffle iron until it turns into something that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with a crackly caramelized layer on top. The croffles here are topped with things like whipped cream, chocolate, and fruit. Get the mont blanc and dip the rich, chocolate-covered ends into a dalgona latte. Croffle House also makes mochi doughnuts and egg tarts.

photo credit: Will Hartman

$$$$Perfect For:Afternoon TeaDessert

While you can grab some desserts to go at Sarisa Cafe in Midtown East, the real tactic at this Thai tea-house is to get their afternoon tea. On the weekends, they offer a $70 tea for two people, where you’ll get all sorts of chewy and coconutty treats, and a pot of never-ending floral tea. If you get along with the flavor of palm sugar, Sarisa should be high on your list of priorities.

photo credit: Kenny Yang

$$$$Perfect For:Literally Everyone

This Taiwanese bakery near the Queens Botanical Garden makes the birthday cake of choice for many families in Flushing: impossibly light cake (we like the green tea best) with not-too-sweet whipped cream frosting, simply but iconically decorated with with strawberries, cherries, kiwi, and peach slices. Grab a slice of their beloved Boston cream pie: two layers of extremely fluffy sponge cake with cream filling and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Suggested Reading

13 Great Asian-Owned Bakeries In NYC image

13 Great Asian-Owned Bakeries In NYC

Where to get pastries, cakes, and more across the city.

10 Great Shaved Ice Spots In NYC image

When you can feel the heat rising up from the sidewalk, it’s time to get some shaved ice.

The Best Boba Shops in NYC image

The best places for brown sugar boba, cheese foam, and all your boba shop favorites.

The Best Ice Cream In NYC image

For a scoop of something cold, here’s where to go.

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