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Sweets from the East: Top 5 Asian Dessert Places

Creamy shaved ice topped with sticky, saccharine condensed milk and decorated with sliced fruits. Cubes of toasted bread towering high with assortments of ice cream and pocky, drizzled syrup cascading down the sides. Bubble waffles slathered with scoops of ice cream and sprinkled with candy and crushed cookies. You’ve probably seen several renditions of these light, but elaborate desserts on your Instagram timeline or on your friends’ stories. These shareable treats are often served in aesthetically pleasing, adorably decorated cafes, so going out for dessert is perfect for cute dates and cute photos.

Eastern confections are innovative and beautifully decorated, boasting savory-sweet flavor profiles and all color combinations. So, if you’re craving some, here are Seattle’s S-tier Asian dessert places.

Snowy Village

Locations: The Ave, Seattle, WA

Price: $5-12

Recommended Items: Strawberry-Mango Bingsoo, Nutella or Red Bean Taiyaki

Picture this. Soft, creamy shaved ice dripping with syrupy, sticky mango, topped with freshly whipped cream. Or, maybe you prefer something dusted with matcha powder and dappled with squares of chewy rice cake. Either way, you can find everything you want in a dessert at Snowy Village.

This dessert café is a hit among students at the University of Washington (and Steven Lim approved. Located on the Ave, the café is dressed in a minimalistic, white aesthetic and birch accents. It’s a perfect place to study alone or catch up with friends on a Friday night.

Snowy Village is known for their Korean shaved ice, or bingsoo. This dessert is a triple threat: photogenic, light, and tasty. A popular summertime treat, bingsoo is traditionally made with red-bean and shaved ice topped with chopped fruits and condensed milk. Nowadays, bingsoo comes in all sorts of flavors and toppings.

Snowy Village serves many flavors ranging from match to cheesecake, but they all have a mountain silky sweet shaved ice made with a milk base and fresh toppings.

While you’re at it, indulge in a fish-shaped treat: taiyaki. Snowy Village also specializes in taiyaki, a Japanese pastry made with a waffle-like mix. You can choose any filling you want (Have you ever had taiyaki filled with bacon and cheese?) or ask for it plain.

Meet Fresh

Locations: Seattle, WA / Bellevue, WA / Tukwila, WA

Price: $6-12

Recommended Items: Black Sugar Milk Tea w/ Boba, Icy Grass Jelly Signature

Pandering for pillowy puffs of chewy mochi swimming in red bean soup? How does a bowl of silky, sweet tofu pudding drizzled with sweet syrup sound? Then, step into Meet Fresh for a taste of Taiwan!

Meet Fresh is a Taiwanese dessert chain, serving a wide menu covering everything from wintermelon teas and herbal teas to purple rice and red bean soups to soy milk and tofu puddings. Meet Fresh prides itself in serving healthy desserts made from freshly farmed, natural ingredients. Their house specialties include its taro and grass jelly products as well as their black sugar boba milk tea. (Don’t worry, ladies and gentlemen, they serve milk teas, too!)

If the combinations on the menu don’t really jingle your jangles, do not fret! Meet Fresh also gives you a chance to customize your own dessert. All you have to do is select a base and any type and number of toppings.

Hui Lau Shan

Locations: Bellevue, WA / Redmond, WA

Price: $6-13

Recommended Items: Pomelo Mango w/ Sago, Mango Romance

Okay. Imagine a café of just mangos. Mango ice cream floating in mango slush, topped with freshly chopped mangoes. Mango pancakes encasing fluffy, fresh whipped cream. Mango sago. Mango pudding. That’s Hui Lau Shan.

Hui Lau Shan is a Hong Kong dessert chain . It started off as a herbal tea trolley in Hong Kong in the 60s’, but has since expanded into a Hong Kong style, fresh fruit dessert chain with over 260 locations across Asia. While they serve non-mango themed desserts like durian pancake and coconut ice topped with fresh strawberry and kiwi, they are better known for their invitingly vibrant, sunshine-colored desserts. Each dessert is skillfully crafted in house and made with the finest handpicked honey mangoes. The thick, crystalline mango slush base found in most of their signature dishes are accompanied with the tasty triad of fresh mango, mochi, and mango ice cream. Some dishes even come in a “jumbo” size, so you can share with your friends or family.

If you’re looking to cool down with something honey-sweet, fruity, and iced, come to Hui Lau Shan! It’s worth trying, even in the dead of winter.

Nana’s Green Tea

Locations: Seattle, WA

Price: $2-13

Recommended Items: Matcha Parfait, Matcha Rolled Cake

If you’re a matcha fiend, or a fanatic of tea-infused anything in general, this needs to be on your bucket list. If you’re not already obsessed with matcha, you will be once you step into the shop.

Nana’s Green Tea is a Japanese dessert chain that serves a selection of match infused desserts. Creamy sundaes. Tiramisu. Parfaits served in tall, crystal glasses and layered with a medley of cereal and mochi. Fluffy roll cakes held together by white cream. You name it. Everything (that is, most everything on the menu) is matcha.

Besides being completely Instagram-able and photogenic, these desserts diverge from the sickeningly sweet profiles of stereotypical desserts, opting more earthy, mild tones. Nana’s Green Tea desserts offer artfully, delicately crafted desserts with more depth in flavor. Though the matcha in these desserts might come off a little bitter and strong at first, it definitely opens up your palette to more flavor profiles.

Don’t worry if you’re not a huge fan of matcha. They have other desserts on the menu too! Yuzu cheesecake. Matcha chocolate cake. Red bean lattes. Nana’s Green Tea also serves a menu of savory foods. There’s something here for everyone.

Hardwok Cafe

Locations: Bellevue, WA / Seattle, WA

Price: $2-8 (for desserts)

Recommended Items: Strawberry toast

Who would think to toast a whole cubic loaf of bread and fill it with generous scoops of ice cream, drizzle it with chocolate syrup, and decorate the whole monstrosity with pocky, cereal, and chunks of fruit? Hardwok Café apparently. And it is glorious.

Hardwok Café is a restaurant that specializes in Taiwanese snacks, street foods, and most importantly, desserts. While they serve savory Taiwanese dishes, like crispy popcorn chicken and pan-fried potstickers, they are best known for their toast boxes. These desserts are not made for a single person to tackle on their own, which makes Hardwok Café a perfect place for dessert dates. However, I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to scarf an entire toast box alone, because those things are delicious. A cube of white bread, lightly toasted to perfection, and heaped with a chaotic, yet harmonious medley of smooth, milky ice cream and sweet and fruity toppings. Toast boxes come in a multitude of flavors: strawberry, matcha, chocolate, honey-banana.

Grab a friend. Grab a date. Tackle a toast box together.

As you can see, Asian desserts take many forms beyond bubble waffles and boba. It’s worth trying them all!

Emily Tang

Washington '23

Emily is a first-year English major at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is a writer on the Her Campus Writing Team at UW and a self-proclaimed caffeine enthusiast.
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