Christila Utomo Said: The Best Ice Creams in New York City

The Best Ice Creams in NYC — Yes, you heard that right!

Hold on, am I hearing this correctly? I thought you said you are not a sweet tooth.

True, but for certain things like ice creams / gelato / sorbets then by all means – BRING IT ON!

For several weeks during the summer, I ventured some of ice cream joints in New York City with one goal: to find the best ice cream places in New York City. Forget about Haagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry or Breyer’s or Cold Stone, they are so yesterday.

P.S.: this review or list is based on my personal and honest taste. They did not pay me nor endorse me (although they should since technically i promote them by writing it here). And yes, this list is random.

  1. Spumoni Ice at L&B Spumoni Gardens

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Besides known for their Sicilian square pizza, L&B boasts itself as the most famous ice cream joint in Brooklyn, New York (or in this case, in NYC since they have been here way longer before the Cold War even erupted). And this particular type of ice cream called spumoni never failed to amaze me. The deliciousness of pistachio, vanilla, and chocolate are so good that sometimes a small portion of this picture can never satisfy my craving. Of course they have another flavor other than traditional spumoni but this classic is definitely a must try in all seasons! Click here for more information about L&B.

And yes, I have featured L&B in the older posts in this blog so make sure to check on past months archives for the other L&B spumoni post.

Dollar Meter: $ (cheap)
Seats: outdoor, indoor (for the Italian restaurants)
Type: family friendly

L&B Spumoni Gardens
2725 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY. 11223
1 (718) 449 1230
Transit: 86th St N train

2. Ice & Vice

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Sometimes I wonder whether my stomach has this weird thing of its’ own. I mean i remember i told my boo i craved for fried chicken but hours later i changed my mind because all of a sudden i craved for something sweet. 😛

anyway, my quest for best ice cream in NYC continues with this delightful little place called Ice & Vice in Lower East Side. At first I was like, um, this place seems kinda remote and hidden in some way but my gut told me to just go for it. As soon as I arrived, one of the staffs greeted me and asked me whether i wanted to sample all of their flavors. I told him i wanted to sample the best flavors they have. In total i sampled like 5 but in the end i chose the milk money and shiso pretty. The milk money flavor consists of toasted milk, sea salt, and chocolate ganache while shiso pretty has strawberry and shiso white balsamic jam.  The shiso pretty was so delicious — i even forgot that they actually incorporated shiso leaves inside an ice cream. that’s how unique Ice & Vice was. And the milk money, boy, it was so rich it did not make me gag at all (this is important!).

For two scoops of ice cream, I paid around $6.80 and what important was: they accept card without minimum purchase! The staffs were so friendly and looks like they truly wanted the best for the customers. The only thing that might be uncomfortable is that the place is somewhat small and seating is pretty limited.

Dollar Meter: $$ (affordable)
Seats: Indoor and Outdoor (limited)
Type: family friendly

Ice & Vice
221 East Broadway, New York, NY, 10002
Phone: 646-678-3687
Transit: East Broadway F train

3. Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

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After feeling so satisfied with Ice & Vice, I decided to browsed for more outstanding ice cream place and Yelp somewhat guide me to Morgenstern’s. I have heard about Morgenstern’s but never had a chance to try them out until like last summer. So I went there and as soon as I got there, I was welcomed with a long line of people outside. That night (8.15PM) was pretty hot so while i waited in line, i prayed hoping that the line moved quick. I peeked through inside and it was literally packed with people who were eating their ice creams and people who were just there to hang out (i hated the latter type). I scanned the menu board (i already did prior on arriving from their website) and after 30 seconds, i knew what i wanted. I waited for approx. 15 minutes until i actually went inside and placed my order. I settled for durian banana and green tea pistachio.

The durian banana to me was very rich and flavorful and i could definitely taste the sweetness of the durian however i think the durian overpowered the banana. As someone who is so accustomed with durian, this flavor was awesome although i wish i could have a balance of both. The green tea pistachio on the other hand was good and it’s kinda a mix of salty and sweet. They were pretty clever on putting the pistachios hidden underneath the green tea. Overall the durian banana seems to be the winner for me at this place.

They have like more than 20 flavors excluding sorbets and they also have special sundaes menu however they only allow you to sample ONE flavor so this is the bummer for me. Another bummer? it’s a cash only place unless you are spending more than $12. Oh, my order of 2 scoops came to $9.80ish.

Dollar meter: $$ to $$$ (affordable to expensive)
Seats: indoor (6-7 seats indoor) and outdoor
Type: not family friendly

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington Street, New York, NY, 10002
212-209-7684
Transit: 2nd Avenue F train, Bowery J and Z trains

4. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

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I first heard about Van Leeuwen from Whole Foods. No kidding. I mean I found their ice cream pints sold at Whole Foods ice cream section and I thought “wow this brand is unique”. months later, I accidentally found out that Van Leeuwen actually have their own ice cream shops at various locations in NY and (coming soon) LA. Yeap, you heard that right — LA as in Los Angeles! After that scrumptious dinner I had with boo at nearby Mighty Quinn’s (will post this sometime later), I decided to check Van Leeuwen since we were actually not that far from the East Village shop.

It was 11.20 ish at night and the place was semi-crowded. I already knew what I wanted but boo took a little bit of time. Boo opted for salted caramel and dark chocolate while i chose the earl grey and strawberry. I paid around $11ish for two orders of two scoops. First things first, if you are a fan of earl grey tea then you will like this flavor. I liked it although it did not scream ‘awesome’ to me but i loved the strawberry one. It’s just strawberry ice cream i know but it was delicious and it was not too overly sweet. just the perfect strawberry ice cream without too much going on. i tried boo’s salted caramel and i fell in love. the caramel was rich and sweet but did not scream ‘diabetes caramel’ and it was the perfect combo of sweet and salty. the dark chocolate was okay per se but it was not the winning flavor.

Of all the ice cream places I went to in this post, I have to say I loved this Van Leeuwen location not only because it is spacious and has plenty of seating but because there is this certain feel of ‘homey old school’ kinda thing. They also offer free water on the back which is another plus point. Aside from ice cream, they also have an extensive coffee drink menu and also pastries so if you like coffee, nibble on some cookies, and spend a long time inside then this place is definitely perfect for you.

FYI, this place reminds me of some ‘old school’ ice cream places back in Indonesia which are still in business. you know, those colonial-Dutch ice cream shops that still sell old school ice cream flavors and snacks and retain their old furnitures and decor. After some search, I found out that they actually maintain another restaurant called Selamat Pagi that specializes in fusion Indonesian cuisine in Brooklyn. 😉

Dollar meter: $ to $$ (cheap to affordable)
Seats: indoor (plenty) and outdoor
Type: family friendly, laptop friendly

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
This location (East Village): 48 East 7th Street, New York, NY, 10003
718-715-0758
Transit: Astor Place 6 Train, 8th St NYU N and R trains, 2nd Avenue F train

5. Sundaes and Cones

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Thai iced tea and lavender

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coconut and taro

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a selfie is a must when you eat ice cream — or so i have heard 😛

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If you like Asian inspired flavors for your ice cream then look no further as this place is ready to pamper your palate. Thanks to Yelp, I finally found an ice cream shop where I can enjoy my ice cream peacefully while reading some of the magazines without being harassed or look at (except from outside :P). Like Van Leeuwen, Sundaes and Cones is pretty spacious and has plenty of seating both outdoor and indoor. The staffs were very helpful and very friendly and very patient – THIS IS IMPORTANT! they have lots i mean LOTS of flavors to try on; from the regular to the not so regular. Think about Lavender. Or black sesame. Or Thai Iced tea.

I have been here twice and I must say that I always left the place satisfied. First round, I tried thai iced tea and lavender. The thai iced tea tasted heavenly — exactly like the Thai iced tea drink that you would normally order at Thai restaurant. One thing about Thai iced tea is that it can be overly sweet but not with this ice cream place. It was just a right dose of sweetness. Then I tried the lavender one. PERFECTION is the word to describe this lavender ice cream. I mean, I am not a lavender fan by any chance but this lavender ice cream is definitely OFF THE CHAIN (ha! gotta borrow Mel B’s). I could taste the lavender flavor and once again it did not disappoint. It feels like I just got best of the both worlds. Second visit, I opted for something different. I decided to brave myself in trying the taro. Don’t get me wrong, I am not strange when it comes to taro but to try them in flavored ice cream well that is different story. At first I wanted to pair the taro with another round of lavender but I feel like trying different flavor with it so i paired taro with coconut. Whoa, the coconut was so rich and flavorful and I guarantee if you are a coconut addict then you will definitely enjoy it! as for the taro, well, another PERFECTION! Man, who knew that taro can be so tasty, so delicious, and so refreshing – one would simply forget that it is actually a  vegetable! LOL!

For two scoops of ice cream on a waffle cone at Sundaes and Cones, I paid around $6ish. Of all the ice cream places I went to in Manhattan, this has got to be the cheapest. Aside from ice cream and sorbets, they also have ice cream cakes, beverages, and some cookies.

Dollar meter: $ (cheap)
Seats: indoor and outdoor
Type: family friendly, readers friendly

Sundaes and Cones
95 East 10th Street, New York, NY, 10003
212-979-9398
Transit: Astor Place 6 Train, 8th St NYU N and R trains, 3rd Ave L train, 1st Ave L train.

Yours Truly 🙂

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When In Doubt: Rasa

As we all know, New York City is a melting pot. and by all means, no matter how desperate you are in looking for certain cuisines, there is always this ‘hole in the wall’ place that exists somewhere out there.

No, i am not saying that Singaporean/Malaysian/Indonesian cuisines are still unfamiliar to some New Yorkers out there but how many places like let’s say around midtown that actually specialize in these type of cuisines? probably one in a million.

And yes, I am still baffled by the fact that people cannot differentiate between East Asian cuisines and Southeast Asian cuisines. And yet there are people out there who still assume that all Asian cuisines are the same. I mean, really?!

Oh well…:P

Anyhow, boo and I were having a very difficult issue sometime last month regarding a passing of someone we loved dearly so our birthday celebration was sorta awkward in some way. I mean, he took me for a birthday dinner in Little Italy but then that unexpected thing happened. I am not gonna get into detail but yes we were that devastated. Meanwhile i realized i have not even treat him for his birthday so I decided to google some restaurants that could enhance his taste buds.

Lucky for me, he is also a foodie.

Was browsing through both OpenTable, Yelp, and Instagram (yes that’s how we do that here in NYC) and my search led me to Rasa. Once I found out that they serve authentic Southeast Asian cuisines, that’s it! I am sold! Looked through their website, Yelp reviews, and of course Instagram posts, I decided to book a table for both of us on Saturday night. Booked for 9 PM one but then changed it to 9.30 and in the end changed to 9.45 because of train delay (yea, this thing happened!)

Located in West Village area near Washington Square Park and NYU, Rasa has this small cozy lounge type feel with an ample of accent lightings and minimalistic decor. I was having a hard time taking pictures on some of the dishes without the flash or any type of editing stuff (not a fan of those) so unfortunately I had to edit the pictures later on. We were seated right when we arrived and we immediately scanned through the menu. I already knew what I wanted so I let boo read for a while. He was intrigued with the roti canai and chicken satay but I told him he could order whatever he wanted to.

So our orders that night were: lettuce wrapped chicken, roti canai, chicken satay, penang assam laksa, and nasi kerabu.

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lettuce wrapped chicken

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roti canai

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chicken satay

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Penang assam laksa

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Nasi Kerabu

 

Our appetizers came pretty fast. The lettuce wrapped chicken to me feels more like something you would order at a Thai place. Boo ordered that one and it actually tasted pretty tasty. Wish they give more lettuces because it was more like chicken wrapped lettuces. lol. The roti canai was pretty legit. The bread itself was soft and smooth — reminds me back of having one when I used to live in KL. However I was kinda disappointed because the portion was pretty small. The sauce was a bit salty that night — I am assuming it was just a minor glitch due to the fact it’s close to closing time? Now the chicken satay was awesome. I mean, personally, that’s the chicken satay I grew up with eating back in the days. Not the one where you separate the peanut sauce and the meat. The chicken was very flavorful, moist, and tender. definitely the winner appetizer for the night.

The entrees we had to share were the laksa and the nasi kerabu. The laksa was a bit different compare to the one I am accustomed with but it was still good. Boo was quite surprised with the flavor because his tastebud was not that familiar with the fish paste and tamarind paste based. I told him that he might like the other variant of laksa, which is the coconut milk based type one. You can click here for the information regarding different types of laksa. We were already stuffed with the appetizers earlier so we had to stop several times when eating the laksa. Portion wise? It was quite huge and you can definitely share it.

As for the Nasi Kerabu? well, we both really enjoyed that dish so much that we argued about who’s finishing what and how many. lol. I mean, everything in it was just great. The chicken, the rice, the veggies, the egg, the crackers — I don’t mind having that single portion for myself. When we finished eating the dish, the owner (or was it the manager of the restaurant?) talked with us for couple of minutes about the history of the dish and explained a lil bit about the process on how to turn the rice color into soft blue. She was very friendly and sweet.

The bill came to just around $55ish (excluding gratitude). Was it worth it? definitely, consider this type of food is still kinda rare especially around West Village. I know, I know, some people will say “well it is not that rare in Queens or Chinatown” but nope I am talking about Manhattan in general, folks!

Rasa
Address: 25 West 8th Street, New York, NY, 10011
Phone: 212-253-9888
Nearest Transit: 9Th street PATH – West 4th St A,B,C,D,E,F,M trains (close by), Christopher St 1 train – 8th St NYU N,R trains (walking distances), M8-M1-M2-M3-M5 buses

Yours Truly 🙂

Things That I Love: SMORGASBURG @ South Street Seaport

Remember sometime ago when I wrote a paper ( HA! 😛 ) in this blog about a food event called Urbanspace?

If you forget or are too lazy to scroll around, here it is.

Same thing with Urbanspace, Smorgasburg is also a food event (and sometimes with flea market that sells vintage goods and apparels) and most of them only lasts during certain period of time. Click here to learn more about Smorgasburg. I have visited couple of Smorgasburgs in Manhattan and Brooklyn and on this post I am going to talk about the one in Manhattan – South Street Seaport.

South Street Seaport itself is an area in downtown Manhattan where a lot of historical buildings located and some of them housed several shops, bars, and restaurants. At this area, you can see the view of downtown Brooklyn, the East river, the ships and ferries that carry passengers to the other boroughs, and also the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Funny story, this area was also where I had my very first date ever in New York City (and i am not going to tell you in details how it went afterwards – we kept in touch as friends only) so it was kinda nostalgic in certain way.

Anyway, this Smorgasburg was kinda unique because it felt more like going to a dedicated food joints in South Street Seaport. Around 8 food vendors and a bar are available there and so far I have tried 3. I am not going to cover anything about Red Hook Lobster Pound because I have wrote about it earlier on the Urbanspace post few months ago.

First one is the infamous Ramen Burger from Ramen Burger.

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Ramen Burger comes with a side of cole slaw.

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I added extra bacon and cheese for the kick! thumbs up!

What I love about the burger itself is that it actually a beautiful combo that works! Normally I am already skeptical when it comes to mixing east and west cuisines but this one is a winner! the meat patty was so juicy with that (I believe) a mix of mayo and teriyaki sauce and the ramen noodles were also a great substitute for the normal burger bun. Actually I was very full after that one meal alone so I decided to just came back on another day for another vendor. total damage is $13 but that’s because I added extra stuff in it.

And this Alfanoose Lebanese cuisine vendor looks very promising with their selection of kebabs, pita, hummus, baba ganoush, sujoks, etc.

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So moved on to the other day when I came back for TACOS! OOH YEAH! This one is by Cemitas El Tigre.

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3 tacos of pork, chicken, and veggies. NOM!

Originally I wanted to go to Lumpia Shack booth but the line was freaking long so I decided to go to Cemitas instead. Boy, a very great decision as those tacos were so good. I have to admit that the chicken was kinda so-so but the veggies and the pork were outstandingly delicious! I mean, I am not vegetarian but the veggie tacos was so good man! And the pork has this slight spiciness that was done just right! And yes, they were very generous with the filling too. I believe it costs around $10 ish for 3 tacos.

And this last one, the pork skewers bowl with mushroom lumpia from Lumpia Shack.

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if Heaven do exists, please let there be an unlimited amount of this bowl up there 😀

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plumpy grilled pork skewers with mixed green salad and yummy mushroom truffle lumpia with shredded chillis. NOM NOM NOM!

Came back another day and the line at Lumpia Shack was still cray cray however I decided to wait and be patience! It did kinda take a little time for my order but boy oh boy it was so worth the wait! The plumpy and juicy pork skewers with that peanut on top together with the mixed green salad was so f**king delicious! I decided to add on 3 more mushroom truffle lumpias — it makes the bowl even better! And yes, I opted for the medium spicy level. I regret it though because I am a spice addict and I should have gone for the extra spicy but it’s still okay 😉 This one I believe costs around $18 ish but very flavorful and filling! You can also choose for brown rice if you don’t want salad.

If you are in New York City and wanted to be in the tourist area but don’t like the idea of being too touristy then you can give this Smorgasburg a try! 😉

Smorgasburg South Street Seaport
Address: 19 Fulton Street
Nearest Transit: Fulton Street 2,3,4,5,A,C,J,Z trains, M15 bus, selected ferries from Brooklyn are also available.

Yours Truly 🙂

When In Doubt: Jordan’s Lobster Dock

Hello People, er readers, it has been a while… 😀

Almost everyone that is close to me knows that I am an avid seafood fan. And by all means, ALL types of seafood — including lobster. Boo asked me whether I wanted to have a seafood dinner and without a doubt I responded with a big ‘yes’.

Okay, I think i need to get a therapy for my seafood addiction lol.

So we went to this place called Jordan’s Lobster Dock at this area called Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. This seafood joint is somewhat located in a remote area in BK so the only convenient way to go there is by car or by B4/B44 MTA buses. I mean yea if you like to walk then the nearest subway is like 20 mins.

Enough with the rambling.

The place itself was quite moderate and clean with quite a handful of outdoor and indoor seating. They have a seafood market located at the back of the restaurant so if you want to buy live lobster then this is the right place to go. Next to Jordan’s is Cold Stone Ice Cream and TGI Friday’s and across the street is a cineplex. We came at around 6.30 pm and it was not that packed. plenty of customers bought the food to go and i saw couple of people enjoying their food outside.

What did we order?

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    New England Clam Chowder bowl. Very authentic and as legit as you could get!

 

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                                           A dozen of Little neck clams.

 

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                                       1 1/2 lbs of Maine Lobster with corn.

 

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The closer look of the lobster. We had beer as well. Boo had Stella while I had Bud light.

 

So how was the food? Price wise?

Personally, I think if you wanted to get a fresh seafood without banging your wallet then this is the place to go to. I mean i know some people out there thought that Jordan’s price was quite expensive but if you think about it, their seafood selection is very broad and they have pretty much everything for everybody. The chowder itself was very rich and meaty — not the porridge type of chowder like some restaurants served out there. The clams were pretty okay but I think i have had better clams somewhere else.  As for the lobster? To be honest, my lobster was cooked just right and it was very meaty. I had a hard time trying to scrap the meat but hey we are talking about lobster here! 😉 For all of those delicacies (including drinks), i believe we paid around $80ish.

Was it worth it? Yes, without a doubt.

If you don’t like clams or lobster then no need to worry. Click here for their huge selection of menu.

P.S.: there’s a $5 deposit hold for the lobster cracker if you want to use it. (weird i know but oh well)

Jordan’s Lobster Dock
Address: 3165 Harkness Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Phone: 718-934-6300
Nearest Transit: B4/B44 MTA buses or by car. nearest subway train (B/Q) is approx. 20 minutes away.

Yours Truly 🙂