I must confess that I have never liked traditional Chinese desserts. Where is the chocolate?
While americanized chinese restaurants usually distribute oranges and fortune cookies (a US invention) at the end of your greasy meal, the traditional chinese desserts are in the form of a hot pudding or hot sweet soup. I tend to think of them in two categories.
1) Hot Puddings. These are made from one core ingredient, e.g. black sesame, red beans, mung beans, walnut, almonds… and lots of sugar. The ingredients are grounded then brewed for hours until they dissolve into a thick paste – the result is a condensed flavored hot sweet pudding. My favorite of this list is the walnut pudding although it’s really difficult to find in the US. Next favorite is the mung bean (green bean) one.
2) Hot Soups. These generally have a clear base, with multiple ingredients (herbs, flowers, fruits, fungus and what not) that will either help generate great skin, or provide strength, or prevent aging. Or a combination of the above. The taste is generally quite mild and it is somewhat soothing to consume at the end of a big meal. My favorite is papaya with clear fungus. It is quite tasty. I try to avoid anything with either bird’s saliva or frogs ovaries or anything else I do not normally consume…
Where to get in NYC: This is not easy to find. Sweet and Tart used to carry it, although they closed down their Mott Street location a few years back. Maybe can try checking out their Flushing location. Otherwise, the best bet is probably XO Kitchen and Bar (Hester street).