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Dessert Primer: Where to Try 7 Unique Flavors Around the U.S.

The most essential new sweets you need to know about
June 29, 2016
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by Priya Krishna

In restaurants, desserts whiz in and out of fashion. Here are some of the trendiest flavors we’re seeing on sweet rotations across the country — and where you can find the most intriguing versions of them. 

Red Bean

What it is: Red bean (also known as the adzuki bean) is one of the more common dessert flavors in parts of East Asia. Red bean paste — the ingredient that flavors most red bean desserts — is made by boiling the beans with sugar (and sometimes adding other flavors, like chestnut). 

Where to find it:
Red Bean Mochi: Patisserie Tomoko (Brooklyn, NY)
Red Bean Pudding: Jasmine Seafood (San Diego, CA)
Medetai (fish-shaped pancake stuffed with red bean paste): Otafuku x Medetai (New York, NY)

Ube 

What it is: Ube, a kind of yam, is known for its mellow, toasted flavor and distinct purple hue that it adds to dishes. The flavor went viral last year when Manila Social Club in NYC created the Golden Cristal Ube Donut (pictured) for a whopping $100.

Where to find it
Ube Parfait: Gilbert's Underground Kitchen (Jacksonville, FL)

Halo Halo (Filipino Shave Ice) with Ube Ice Cream: Sunburst Grill (Denver, CO)

Ube Ice Cream: 2nd City (New York, NY)

Ube Frozen Custard: Trove (Seattle, WA)

Lychee 

What it is: Lychee is the hairy fruit with the glossy, jelly-like inside; it tastes like a supercharged grape. They are the perfect refresher for a hot summer’s day, so it’s no wonder so many restaurants are adding them to cold drinks and sweets.  

Where to find it
Lychee Martini: Morimoto (New York, NY)
Crème Fraîche Cheesecake with Lychee Snow: Stateside (Seattle, WA) 
Raichi (Lychee-cello with lemon, grapefruit, and rosewater): Himitsu (Atlanta, GA)

Pandan

What it is: Pandan leaves come from the herbaceous plant native to Southeast Asia, and imbue a fragrant, coconut-like bite to sweet and savory dishes alike. Pandan is an integral ingredient in Malaysian favorite kaya toast to flavor the coconut jam that holds the sandwich together.

Where to find it
Pandan Toast: Sate Kampar (Philadelphia, PA)
Pandan Waffle with Strawberry Guava Whipped Cream: Zengo (Denver, CO)
Powdered Sugar Donuts with Pandan Custard: Pig and Khao (New York, NY)

Black Sesame 

What it is: Black sesame seeds are nutty, bitter and ubiquitously found atop bagels — and now desserts! Made iconic (in our opinion) by the black sesame ice cream at Davey’s in NYC, this flavor is now popular year-round on pastry menus. 

Where to find it:
Black Sesame Ice Cream: Davey’s Ice Cream (New York, NY)
Black Sesame Beignets: Honey's (Chicago, IL)
Sweet Bao Fries with Black Sesame Condensed Milk: Baohaus (New York, NY)

Jackfruit 

What it is: Known for its bumpy exterior and starchy inside, jackfruit — which has a taste similar to a banana — is one of the more versatile foods out there. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and in addition to sweet applications like cakes and puddings, it’s sometimes used as a meat substitute for vegans, due to its pulled-pork-esque texture. 

Where to find it
Coconut Ice Cream Sandwich (coconut-jackfruit ice cream sandwiched in a sweet bun with sticky rice, peanuts, and condensed milk): Pok Pok (Portland, OR)
Jackfruit Shake: Ba Xuyen (Brooklyn. NY)
Charcoal Waffle with Jackfruit Jam: Stateside (Seattle, WA)

Yuzu 

What it is: The perfect marriage of a grapefruit and an orange, yuzu is a small citrus that packs a bold, sour punch. It’s used often in cocktails, and to add a kick of tartness that’s a bit bolder than your usual lemon or lime to desserts. 

Where to find it
Strawberry Yuzu Doughnut: Acorn (Denver, CO)
Frozen Yuzu Soufflé: Townsman (Boston, MA)
Yuzu Posset with Strawberries and Candied Violets: Addison (San Diego, CA)

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