At Cha An, a precise and neatly composed bowl of Zenzai ($8.50) starts with chilled matcha soup, bright and slightly sweetened, a trio of shiratama at the base, little orbs of chewy mochi balls. Above that goes mild, housemade sake ice cream with azuki bean jellies, perfect cut cubes tucked beneath the ice cream, and a larger figure-eight cut at the surface. A balance of every texture is presented in this dish, from the sticky chew of mochi to the final crown of a crunchy black sesame tuile, the cookie caramelized just enough to offer sweet smoky notes. Devoured in a tea room setting as serene as Cha An, it's a complete eating experience, where you may easily forget that you're smack in the middle of the East Village.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.