Cheese and green tea; red beans and condensed milk; rice and ice cream. No, those are not the remaining fragments of the fever dream you had last night. Halfway across the world they’re combinations that are as perfect delicious, and perfectly normal, as peanut butter and jelly. Cold and creamy Asian desserts like bubble tea, Bing Soo, and crepe cake have been making their way stateside over the past couple of years, but it’s only recently that they’ve begun to filter into metro Detroit confectionary offerings.
I set out to find the best transpacific treats locally. Below were some of the tastiest Asian desserts I came across.
Kung Fu Tea
The name should say it all. This New York-based chain specializes in bubble tea and has locations across the world including one in Sterling Heights. The extensive menu includes milk teas in classic flavors like taro, coconut, and almond, along with ice-blended slushes, and Milk Strikes, i.e. drinks made with Lactaid for those on vegan or dairy-free diets. I opted for the Taro with a milk cap (an additional layer of milk foam) and it exceeded expectations. It was sweet but not too sweet, had a good ratio of milk to tapioca pearls, and rivaled some of the bubble teas I’ve had in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Kung Fu Tea, 2105 15 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-999-5928; kungfutea.com
I dragged my mother to Myomee, a quiet bakery tucked away in Southfield’s New Seoul Plaza, on a particularly snowy day this month to try Bing Soo. It’s a Korean dessert made from shaved milk ice often topped with red bean, condensed milk, mochi, and fresh fruit. We tried the Injeolmi, perhaps the most traditional of the bakery’s offerings, which is topped with grain powder, toasted sliced almonds, sweet red bean, mochi, and condensed milk. It was barely sweet, crunchy, creamy, and gave me the surreal feeling of eating what I always wanted snow to taste like. Myomee, 27566 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-996-8514; myomeecafe.com
My colleagues — editorial assistant, Ashley Winn, and digital marketing coordinator, Asia Jones — joined me at White Wolf during a recent lunch hour. The Japanese-inspired café, which officially opened its doors in January, serves a variety of cakes, savory breads, teas, and coffees in a modern and minimal setting. I went with the intention of sampling White Wolf’s Matcha Crepe Cake — a popular dessert in Japan — but was a little disappointed by how thick and chewy it was. The Strawberry Shortcake, however, was exceptional. It was light and fluffy, soft, and a pretty shade of pale pink. It’s one of the café’s signature desserts, and I recommend everyone try it. White Wolf Bakery, 31 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-268-3349; whitewolfbakery.com
Eli Tea Bar
Sometime in 2010, street vendors who manned the night markets of Taiwan decided to whip cream cheese, milk, and salt into a foamy topping for cold sweetened tea. The drink became so popular that it launched a few chains, including the Shenzen, China-based Hey Tea. I’m a fan of both sweetened tea, whipped cream, and sweet and salty drinks, but for some reason I avoided “cheese tea” until a recent trip to Hong Kong. My friend insisted I try her favorite HeyTea concoction, the Very Grape Cheezo. It consists of layers of “cheese,” fresh grape juice, and sliced grapes, and it was surprisingly light and refreshing. Upon returning home, I missed my friend and began looking for local cheese tea options. A few weeks later, I found myself at Eli Tea Bar trying the Birmingham spot’s tea with whipped liquid cheesecake. It was dense, very sweet, but also very salty, and tasted nothing like the HeyTea version. However, it was addictive in its own way and a pretty good substitute for when you’re far from the real thing and the people you want to share it with. Eli Tea Bar, 108 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-825-8064; eliteabar.com