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: Kulu Desserts

As I have said many times on some of my posts, I do not have sweet tooth. My taste bud for desserts is quite limited to certain area. For instance, if I am dining at a fancy restaurant and their desserts menu are dominated with cakes and a limited selection of sorbets or gelatos then I will definitely choose the sorbet/gelato in a heart beat. To me, a definition of dessert would be something that is cold and should not be too full and make me gag afterwards.

Don’t blame me, God created me like that. LOL. And yes, I still love tiramisu — just very picky in this one 😉

Anyway, boo and I were discussing about Asian desserts at one point while we were having dinner at this hip Korean place (the post will be made asap) and his search led us to this place called KULU. Long story short, KULU has two branches in both Brooklyn and Queens. They are scheduled to open new branch in Manhattan sometime soon (according to their website). Since we were hanging out in Brooklyn that particular Sunday so we decided to try KULU at their Brooklyn branch.

The place itself was kinda small with limited numbers of seating and tables but most of the patrons bought the desserts to go. We happened to get the adjacent table next to the kitchen so we could see how they prepared some of the desserts. Basically, you order your dessert and pay then wait for your number to be called. We ordered coconut pudding with red bean and snowy durian.

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Coconut pudding with red bean and snowy durian

 

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Snowy durian which was indeed snowy and delicious!

 

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Coconut pudding with red bean. The red bean was so fresh and yummy!

 

First we tried the snowy durian. Boo was not that familiar with durian fruit and its’ taste so I gave him a chance to taste it first. He actually liked it although I told him that durian fruit itself is supposed to be very stinky but he did not mind. I tried the durian custard and it was just the perfect dose of sweetness. I mean yeah durian itself is sweet but it was just right. It also had two scoops of vanilla ice cream which makes it even better. We already ate dinner before so by the time we finished this one, we were already full. So if you go here alone and want to get a fulfilling dessert then you can try this snowy durian.

The coconut pudding with red bean was also refreshing and delicious. Boo is a fan of red bean and he could not be happier with this dessert. I mean, I like red bean too but I would not call myself a fan tho 😛 beneath those red beans, lies the coconut pudding itself which did not disappoint either. The coconut tasted just like coconut without any additional sugar and it went well with the red bean.

I forgot the price but I believe I paid less than $20 for both of the desserts. Definitely cheaper than let’s say Lady M mille crepes LOL. Depends on how you budget your desserts but if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind dessert that can satisfy both your wallet and your mouth then KULU might be your new dessert place to go. 🙂

For KULU menu: http://kuludesserts.com/menu.html

For KULU locations: http://kuludesserts.com/location.html

KULU desserts (Brooklyn)
Address: 806 62nd Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11220
Phone: 718-680-2818
E-mail: kuludesserts@gmail.com
Hours: Mon-Thur 12PM-12AM, Fri-Sat 12PM-2AM, Sun 12PM-12AM
Nearest Transit: 8TH Avenue N train (close by), Fort Hamilton Parkway N train (walking distances), B70 bus (close by), B16 bus (walking distances)

Yours Truly 🙂