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: Momofuku Milk Bar

This is going to be a short post — ah finally! 😉

I was already aware of this place called Momofuku Milk Bar but I was just never bothered to check it out. Years passed by, seasons passed by, I graduated college, I enrolled in a graduate school — still my legs did not even care that much to go there.

Until sometime last May or so when I was watching Masterchef on Fox and saw Christina Tosi who happens to be one of the judges. I googled her and my research led me to…

Yes, you got it! Momofuku Milk Bar!

I am not going to write a whole paragraph about her but in case you are wondering, click here.

Momofuku Milk Bar (later on Milk Bar) specializes in baked goods and cakes and also this yummy (but quite pricey) cereal milk bar.

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Soft cereal milk with cornflakes. $5

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Unique! It melts fast tho 😛

One thing that I really dislike about this cereal milk is that it melts really fast so if you want to brag this dessert on Instagram or other social medias, my suggestion is: take couple of pictures while you’re inside the store and post it later. I finished eating those cereal milk in less than 3 minutes. I should have just ate it inside the store but the lighting inside was somewhat dark so… 😛

I also purchased some of their cookies like the compost cookies, corn flake marshmallow choco chip cookies, and the blueberry and cream cookies. All of them tasted delicious but my favorites would be the compost and the choco marshmallow.

for more of their products: http://milkbarstore.com/main/menu/

You can find Momofuku Milk Bar stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn but if you are visiting to NYC and don’t want to be bothered traveling somewhere strange then my best bet is to go to their midtown Manhattan location.

Momofuku Milk Bar
15 West 56th Street between 5th and 6th ave.
Phone: 347-577-9504 ext 5
Nearest Transit: M1-M2-M3-M4-M5-Q32 buses (close by), 57th St F train (close by), 5th ave 53rd St E and M trains (1-2 minutes walking), 5th ave 59th St N,Q,R trains (1-2 minutes walking).

Yours Truly 🙂

When In Doubt: L&B Spumoni Gardens

OK, I think I have found a new major love for dessert.

Presenting Spumoni Ice Cream from L&B Spumoni Gardens.

What is inside this magnificent deliciously made ice cream? You get pistachio, vanilla, and chocolate. All three goodness flavors in one scoop. Once boo introduced me to this one, bye-bye regular ice cream. Shoot, even Haagen Dazs is no longer in my favorite anymore. (that one was just a joke, I still love my Haagen Dazs Green Tea 😛 )

Boo’s folks, him, and I would always order at least two quarts of Spumoni to share. Talk about being a spumoni fans 🙂

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one quart of spumoni around $8

 

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my spumoni on a cone 🙂 NOM!

 

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Boo and I enjoying spumoni. PS: lady at the back, thanks for photo bombing 🙂

 

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even this cute kid already developed a love for spumoni 🙂

 

Seriously speaking, you can never have enough Spumoni. And oh, L&B Spumoni Gardens is also famous for their square Sicilian pies and their ultimate Italian foods. When we dined at the restaurant last week, we ordered bunches of appetizers to share. my favorites would be the fried zucchini, roasted artichokes, and baked clams. their house salad was delicious as well (they’re very generous with the onions — me like!). I ordered linguine with broccoli rabe and sausage — definitely worth the buck! (sorry for no picture but in case you want to look how big the portion is then here is the link for the instagram pic that i uploaded)

L&B Spumoni Gardens
Address: 2725 86th St, Brooklyn, NY 11223
Phone:(718) 449-1230
Nearest Transit: 86th St N train (about 1 minute of walking), Brooklyn MTA’s B buses also stop by near the restaurant.

When Feeling Special: Wasan

So last month i booked a table through opentable at Wasan. I was indeed feeling special. Special because it was an anniversary (even though a week faster due to something else) with boo.

I googled Wasan’s menu and i literally got hooked. I felt that it would be the perfect place for boo and i to eat and spend Saturday night. Even way better, they have this thing called Chef’s tasting menu. Basically you pay $55 per person and you could taste the chef’s tasting menu that consists of appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

Originally i booked the 8.00 PM table but since i got stuck in the subway (thanks a lot MTA) so i changed it into 9.00 and finally changed it for 9.30 because (again) i felt the train was gonna be delayed. lo and behold, the train ran so slow it seems like forever.

We got off at 8th Street NYU station around 9.15 and walked for about 10 minutes before finally reached the restaurant. while we were walking, there was a crazy (probably drunk) guy standing in the middle of the street screaming weird sentences. poor girlfriend, she had to convince him to get up. eventually we saw him again later on. 😛

we arrived at Wasan around 9.26 and waited for about a minute before we were seated. the place itself is small but it has quite a handful of tables and also a bar where you can grab a sake or beer (incase you don’t want any table). i remember there is a big table in the back, possibly suitable for a party of 5 or 6.

So, what did we order? (beware of foodporn lol)

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Amuse: asparagus and burdock, sweet sesame paste

this Amuse thing was so perfect as it really opened our tastebuds. the asparagus and burdocks were so crisp and the sauce was so tasty! I could eat this like a snack everyday!

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Grilled scallop, shrimp, and squid salad

Now, how many times did you order squid or scallop only to realize that those two always ended up over cooked or rubbery or just plain dull? Not at Wasan. all the seafoods were so fresh and cooked to perfection boo and i literally did not want to finish eating those. and the sauce for the salad, again tasty and fresh.

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Assorted sashimi

sashimi has to be eaten fresh. period. and Wasan did not disappoint. all three of them (salmon, tuna, and i believe yellowtail) were so fresh that we wish they serve more than just couple of pieces. and the wasabi was fresh too.

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Grilled Spanish mackerel in sweet vinegar

this is boo’s second appetizer. i actually liked it. the mackerel was cooked just right. and the sauce was great too.

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Balsamic chicken, green tartar sauce

Now seriously, that green tartar sauce is THE BOMB! it went well with the chicken (which was again, very juicy and cooked to perfection) and also the balsamic. they also served fried lotus root and (again) i wish they would serve more than just two pieces. 😀

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Stone grilled sirloin steak

boo and i opted for the same main entree which is stone grilled sirloin steak. they gave you the hot stone for you to cook the meat. for the dipping sauce, boo and i was discussing whether they actually put sake into the sauce or not. he said they might put some sake while i think they did not put sake instead they used ponzu and probably lil bit of ginger into it. silly us, should have just asked the waiter 😛 anyway, regarding the taste, well this is more like yakiniku thingy so all you need to do is just grill them on the hot stone for like 3-4 minutes and then dip it into the sauce. the beef they used was excellent. not wagyu but it was still darn good.

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Strawberry coconut with Wasan Junmai Sake sorbet

this last one, the dessert — boo and i opted for the same dessert. seriously, while typing this, i am longing for that ice cream as it was so delicious! words cannot describe how delicious that ice cream was — and the sake sorbet was so good too! even though it contained alcohol but it was made just right. and they also gave two small pieces of cookies which were awesome. Man, if only i live in East Village i would drop by every day just for the dessert. 😉

In conclusion, Wasan is a very nice spot for those of you who want to experience something different. The food and desserts were just awesome — i mean even if you don’t want to try the chef’s tasting menu you can still find other selections as well. but yeah, this place is perfect for hanging out with friends or dates or even just by yourself. heard they serve delicious uni bowl. and yes, every friday and saturday, they have ramen after 10 PM.

P.S: the chef’s tasting menu change every month so make sure to visit their website first.

P.P.S: reservation is very recommended. it’s not fancy Per Se or La Bernardin but the restaurant itself is small. Unless you want to sit in the bar.

Wasan
Address: 108 East 4th Street, New York, NY, 10003 (b/w 1st and 2nd avenue)
Phone: 212-777-1978
Hours: Mon : 6pm – 10:30pm
Tue : 6pm – 10:30pm
Wed : 6pm – 10:30pm
Thu : 6pm – 10:30pm
Fri : 6pm – 1am
Sat : 6pm – 1am
Sun : 5pm – 10:30pm
Nearest Transit: 2nd Avenue F train (close by), 8th St NYU N,R trains (about 10 mins walking), Astor Place 6 train (about 10 mins walking), Bleecker St 6 train (about 6-7 mins walking)

When In Doubt: Carvel

Spring time. Cool and warm weather at the same time. Everybody heads out to feel the sunlight. Days are getting longer. Well, not as long as the summer but it’s so much better than those dreary dark winter days.

The best way to celebrate? Ice cream! Without a doubt!

I love my sorbet from Ciao Bella, i love my ice cream from Haagen Dazs, Breyers, and Whole Foods, i love my mochi ice cream from several brands in the Asian supermarkets, but i am also open to try new brand for desserts.

Bf talked about Carvel. I was curious. I have heard about Carvel but haven’t really tried them out. I saw the ad on a newspaper and they have what every Nutella fan wanted to see and taste, Nutella ice cream and shakes!

Off we went to this Carvel located near Coney Island.

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My Nutella Shake. HEAVEN!

 

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Nutella Ice Cream

 

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Happy Face indeed!

 

I had the medium Nutella shake while boo had the regular Nutella ice cream.

How was it? It was so good I literally want to go to Carvel right now and have that Nutella shake.

They also have plenty of other selections if you are in the mood for something different. Just scroll down the pictures below and you will know what I meant. Anybody a fan of ice cream cake?

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They have Oreo rounders for those Oreo fans

 

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Baseball and Basketball fans would really appreciate this!

 

 

Carvel Ice Cream
Address:  2744 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235
Phone: (718) 934-8173
Nearest Transit: Sheepshead Bay B and Q trains. I saw couple of B buses stop by near Carvel however I am not a Brooklynites so please feel free to add more info regarding buses info that has bus stop nearby this Carvel.

Yours Truly 🙂