[Photograph: Kathy YL Chan]

Only on the menu for the months of October and November, this Pumpkin Custard ($8) is the autumn highlight at Cha-An. It's made with kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin), resulting in a naturally sweet, creamy, almost buttery custard that's served cool with a dollop of barely whipped cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Dig in and find a surprise pooled at the bottom of the ramekin. What's that you see? A layer of caramel! Dark and glossy, thin but potent, and a touch smoky. It unexpectedly enhances the kabocha flavors, and takes the dessert from ordinary to something far more memorable. Next time, I'll be asking for an extra serving of caramel on the side.


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About the author: Originally from Honolulu, Kathy YL Chan blogs at Kathy YL Chan, where she chronicles her eats and travel adventures between Hawai'i, New York and beyond. She firmly believes that there is always room for dessert.

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