Valentine's Sweets at the New World Mall in Flushing

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Valentine's Day doesn't need to be just about a date at an expensive restaurant or a fancy box of chocolates. In fact, it doesn't necessarily have to be about romance at all.

I have always looked at it as a day of appreciation of family and friends. In fact, I much prefer the name that they use in Mexico (and other Latin American countries) on February 14th, Día del Amor y la Amistad, Day of Love and Friendship. Add to that a love of food, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate the day with friends and loved ones than by sharing some sweets. To find some great, fun, and affordable dessert options, all in one place, I went to New World Mall food court in Flushing to find some shareable sweets. At each place, I asked for the most popular dessert, and ordered based on their recommendations.

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Here's the Mango Pomelo Sago at Beautiful Memory Desserts ($5.50). Pearl tapioca thickens the barely sweetened mango soup, topped with chunks of perfectly ripe mango, shards of pomelo, and lychee jelly. The floral lychee almost overpowers the subtle soup, but the pomelo adds a nice bitter edge. If only there were more of it. Even so, the half quart to-go container of pudding disappears all too easily.

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Or the Rice Pudding at Pho Bac Express ($2.00). The woman behind the counter at this Vietnamese stall really sold me on the rice pudding, even over the creme caramel. And just for ordering it, she ladled on some extra coconut cream. Chewy glutinous rice mixed with black-eyed peas, topped with the thick, sweet coconut cream, meant to be mixed in. The dessert as a whole had a nice, chewy texture and an earthy flavor.

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At PONJI Juice Bar, there's a warm, silky Tofu Pudding ($4.49) topped with a festival of mango: chopped fresh mango, mango-filled popping boba, mango stars and mango syrup. A great contrast of temperatures and textures. Warm and cold, chewy and smooth, with bursts of fragrant liquid.

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And finally, how can you pass up a dessert called Fudgin' Good Ice Cream Crepe ($4.95) at Mojoilla Fresh? A large crepe, made fresh in front of you, smeared with peanut butter, topped with chopped bananas and whipped cream, and a scoop of your choice of ice cream (I chose chocolate, otherwise there'd be nothing fudge-like in the fudgin') and then rolled into a cone, with a wafer cookie sticking out jauntily to the side for good measure. I've been eyeing these for months now, and I'm glad that Valentine's Day finally gave me a good excuse to walk around with one of these beauties. It's a lot of dessert.

Of course, if you must be romantic on Valentine's Day, there's no better way to show your love than with a Romantic Snowy ice at Snopo, like the Princess Strawberry ($7.99) shown at top. Read all about romantic ice and more here.

Happy Valentine's Day!

New World Mall Food Court

40-21 Main Street, Flushing NY 11354 (map)

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