NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Spring has arrived, and what better way to celebrate than with ice cream?
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CBS2’s Elle McLogan headed to Chinatown in Manhattan to taste a classic scoop and a modern shaved ice.
She began at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, counted among the oldest businesses in the area.
Christina Seid runs the shop, which her father Philip opened 40 years ago.
“Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is a local establishment,” Christina said. “All of our ice creams are homemade, and we specialize in Asian flavors.”
“I have everyday things like coconut fudge, pumpkin pie,” she said. “Our number-one seller is the lychee.”
Green tea, black sesame, red bean, and taro flavors are also on offer.
“We attribute the innovation of ice cream to the Tang Dynasty in China, and we’re kind of taking that back and making it our own and creating a staple in Chinatown,” she said.
“There are very few places that are still around in New York City that can say that they’ve been here 40 years. So, for a lot of people, it’s just great to have something that’s familiar and not something [from] Instagram that people are just checking off their list… . It’s something that people repeatedly come back to. People have those stories, ‘When I was a kid, my parents used to take me [to CICF] after Chinese school’ or ‘I had my first ice cream at CICF.’ And you see them as adults, so this has a lot of history here.”
While Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is preserving a piece of history, just blocks away, Bonsai Kakigori is serving up new-school flavor.
“It’s New York City’s first kakigori restaurant,” said co-founder Theo Friedman.
“Kakigori is a traditional Japanese dessert,” he explained. “It’s similar to shaved ice, but it’s really different in two main ways. The first is the texture of the ice. It’s super light. It’s super fluffy. It kind of just dissolves right into your mouth. That’s mainly from the machines that we use, which we import from Japan. And then, the second big differentiator is everything that we put on top of the ice. Everything is made from scratch, using real, natural fruits and ingredients. Nothing is artificial or from a can.”
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Among the top-selling flavors is the Strawberries & Cream.
“It’s fresh strawberries that we cook at 135 degrees for two hours, so that gives us this really intense, punch-you-in-the-face strawberry flavor,” he said. “And then we also add a strawberry purée, so we get these two different textures. We add a black sesame brittle and then a homemade whipped cream.”
While kakigori itself has ancient roots, Friedman’s team offers a modern interpretation, experimenting with rare ingredients sourced from South America and beyond.
“Kakigori itself is a super traditional Japanese dessert. It actually dates back to the 11th century,” he said. “I think for us at Bonsai Kakigori, it’s really important to recognize where it comes from and understand the roots are from Japan, but at the same time, understand its time and place right now, and New York city inspiring Bonsai Kakigori, more so than providing a strict Japanese traditional experience.”
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10013
Canal Street Market
265 Canal Street
New York, NY 10013
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