Even among the culinarily adventurous, affairs of the sweet tooth tend toward the traditional.
Even among the culinarily adventurous, affairs of the sweet tooth tend toward the traditional. This is perhaps not surprising-while Central Ohio has a flourishing immigrant restaurant scene, dessert providers have primarily proffered well-crafted renditions of American and European standards. While the likes of Jeni's and Pistacia Vera are deserving of their fan base, there's a raft of new and intriguing global treats shops that garner rave reviews from their respective immigrant communities.
1. Belle's Bread
French baking technique meets Japanese culinary tradition at Belle's. This makes for a fascinating browse through its pastry section, where flaky croissants and meticulously crafted fruit tarts mingle with chicken curry-filled donuts and sweet pea-spiked rolls. For a delicious and accessible start, try the red bean paste-filled ogawa roll.
2. Dessert Bowl
Many of Dessert Bowl's East Asian-inspired offerings are best described as sweet soups. Some are more like sweet rice porridges. All are far more delicious than any description might suggest. The mango pomelo sago (a Hong Kong favorite) is a solid first foray, as are the crispy glutinous rice balls.
3. Tea Zone
Start with a large bowl of shaved ice, add syrup, fruit, sweet red bean paste and tapioca. Top it off with a scoop of ice cream and some sprinkles. That's bing soo, Tea Zone's rendition of a Korean favorite. It's large-it could easily feed two-and manages to feel both sinful and ever-so-slightly virtuous at the same time.
4. Diamonds ice cream
The freezer chest that displays Diamonds' house-made paletas is nothing short of a riot of colors representing a wide array of flavors both familiar and exotic. Paletas-Mexican frozen popsicles made with or without dairy (some layered with both!)-are a staple of Mexican summers, and nobody comes close to the variety that Diamonds offers.
5. La Laguna
While La Laguna is essentially a Mexican ice cream parlor, its big draw is a simple, refreshing and delicious treat known as raspados. It starts with shaved ice, to which house-made fruit syrups and a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk are added. Flavors range from a mild and straightforward strawberry to a fiery, spicy tamarind.
6. Kung Fu Tea
Bubble tea is a Taiwanese dessert drink that's swept across the globe and has become a source of obsession among its faithful consumers. The vast selection of flavors, tea types and add-ons can be overwhelming to a newcomer, but Kung Fu's taro milk tea makes for a good entry point.
photos: tim johnson