Around 200 BC, during the Tang Dynasty, there are references of people snacking on snow enriched with dairy. Whether or not ancient China can claim to be the inventor of ice cream is up for debate—the ancient Persians, who invented the ingenious cold storage facilities known as yakhchāls, might like a word—but there’s no arguing with the fact that frozen treats have a long, illustrious history in the country.
In 1978, that little piece of history inspired Philip Seid to open The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, a New York institution whose stature has only grown over the subsequent decades. To this day, all of the 30-plus rotating flavors are made in-house and best enjoyed mounded high in an oversized waffle cone.
When you walk in, expect to see an array of electric-hued ice creams in flavors like pandan, red bean, ube, don tot (Chinese egg custard), and black sesame. The almond cookie scoops come with cookie crumbles from Famous Fung Wong Bakery, while the “zen butter” incorporates toasted sesame seeds into a peanut butter base. Of course, you can also find “exotic” Western flavors here, like chocolate, vanilla, and pumpkin pie.
Know Before You Go
Canal Street is the closest subway stop.