Posts Tagged ‘Asian desserts


A trip to the Asian grocery store reveals a deficit of delicious desserts

Here’s why you usually don’t see anything beyond mango sticky rice,* green tea ice cream, and fried bananas on the dessert menu of your favorite Asian restaurant. Desserts are not our forte.

What follows are exhibits A, B, and C of the freezer case at Great Wall, an Asian grocery store in Falls Church, VA. A few observations below on what’s wrong with Asian desserts.

Taro root popsicles at the Asian grocery store.

(1) Fruit is not a dessert. Most Asians eat fruit for dessert. Which is a lot healthier, of course, but a few oranges wedges aren’t going to satisfy any craving for a cookie.

(2) Some Asian desserts are so bad, they border on the offensive. Mochi doesn’t taste like anything and it’s a digestion/choking hazard. No, I don’t want fibrous taro root in my cake. Please keep your durian out of my ice cream. There’s a reason some Asian countries ban that fruit from being taken on public transportation (it’s that pungent).

Durian frozen desserts at the Asian grocery store.

(3) Care for a side of the toots with your sweets? Because many Asian desserts (mochi, red bean buns, moon cakes, shaved ice) come with beans as a topping or filling. Confusing and not delicious, right?

Beans do not belong in desserts.

*One of the lone beacons of light among Asian desserts is mango sticky rice (thank you, Thailand), which done properly can be divine. As can anything made with coconut milk. As long as it doesn’t also have taro root, beans, and/or durian in it.


Trader Joe’s mochi coconut “ice cream,” and how traditional mochi can kill you

This is a pretty great product, especially if you’re lactose intolerant. The coconut filling is creamy enough that it could be mistaken for regular ice cream, only your GI tract isn’t at the mercy of a bottle of lactase. (You get 2 of each flavor in a perfectly pre-portioned mochi wrapper.) The mango was my favorite, followed by the dark chocolate.

Speaking of which, I have never, ever understood the popularity of mochi, which is a Japanese sticky rice cake widely found throughout East Asia. It’s like chewing on a super dense, unsweet marshmallow dusted with flour. My jaw tires just thinking about it. Sometimes there’s a sweet bean paste center or some other filling, which makes it marginally more appealing.

You may have seen small mochi bits in the toppings bar at your Red Mango or Pinkberry. Mochi is a New Year’s tradition in Japan, and every year a few people–usually the elderly–choke to death on it. Which results in another (rather morbid) Japanese New Year tradition: reporting the mochi death toll.

Luckily the mochi in this product isn’t your typical mochi, but a more gelatinous and rubbery shell that’s easy to chew. For me it was just a layer standing in the way of the coconut creaminess underneath. But at least it’s a lot more palatable than the kind of mochi that doubles as a Darwinian device.


Almond float from China Garden, Rosslyn

Almond float. Ask for it by name.

Almond float. Ask for it by name.

This is not a pretty almond float. It is, however, a tasty one. I ordered it during dim sum at China Garden (It’s not one of the dishes available from the roaming carts. Just ask one of the waitstaff and it’ll magically appear from the kitchen).

Almond float’s a pretty simple concept: almond extract + fruit cocktail + agar agar (the white, gelatinous substance you see in the photo that’s made of seaweed). My mom would sometimes make this for dinner parties. Unlike other Chinese desserts, which either (1) don’t exist, or (2) are weighed down with dense bean paste, this one’s light and refreshing.


weekend dessert roundup

personal pumpkin pie
after a so-so mini pumpkin pie at my favorite mock seafood restaurant (i ordered it only because it was tagged as “personal sized”), i experienced dessert happiness at joe’s noodle house on sunday night, with sweet glutinous rice dusted in sweet peanut powder.

admittedly, that isn’t so great a description. i didn’t get a picture, either, because it didn’t look that appetizing – just a pile of what looked like melted rice covered in a beige powder.

but oh my goodness – it was deliciousness. warm and sweet and chewy, like a pudding gone right. mmmm.

best of all? it was only $1.95. yum. even if you hate it, you can’t go wrong!

check it out at joe’s noodle house.