A small storefront in Bay Ridge is serving up some of the most refreshing sweets you'll find in the city. Sweet House, which opened in 2017, will sate your Hong Kong-style dessert cravings while also cooling you down. Most of their menu uses plant-based jelly instead of gelatin (just make sure to ask before diving in spoon first), and many of their ingredients also come with added health benefits.
The treats range from fruit-filled bowls to items you won't find in your average New York sweets shop. The Harsmar and Bird's Nest with Coconut Juice, for example, features frog fallopian tubes and saliva from Swiftlets (which make their nests out of hardened spit). In traditional Chinese medicine, harsmar (or hasma) is said to benefit the lungs, kidneys, and skin complexion. The Bird's Nest will boost your immune system, and is said to have a near-endless list of other health benefits (though in 2017, the NY Times reported that "the growing demand for bird’s nest... has spelled trouble for the birds... Swiftlet populations have fallen steeply, prompting conservation officials to look for ways to protect the species").
Harsmar and Bird's Nest with Coconut Juice, $9.95. (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
And then there are the mangoes, which are everywhere. When asked about the abundance of this fruit on the menu, the manager told Gothamist there was no big secret—they taste good, people like 'em, and they're healthy.
In that department, we'd recommend the Mango Pudding with Mixed Fruit—a light and refreshing treat, and the shaved coconut ice on top really complimented it by adding a crunch to the whole thing. It comes with kiwi and strawberry and only costs $5.95. The Mango Pudding and Mango Combo were also a hit, and the two worked surprisingly well together. The latter is a mango puree with cubed mango and a ball of fresh mango pudding in the center that is reminiscent of ice cream. It was delicious and a must-try for diehard mango fanatics.
Not into mangoes? The Grass Jelly with Mixed Fruit in Coconut Juice is more of an earthy sweet. The scoops of cantaloupe and slices of strawberry, mango and kiwi make the dish sweeter, but the jelly's bitterness is the stronger flavor here. The manager said the jelly is chock full of fiber, has no fat, and zero sugars ($4.50).
Their menu here is broken down into Special Jelly Drinks (the Chrysanthemum Tea with Honey Jelly is a refreshing bittersweet drink with a sweet jelly surprise at the bottom), All-Season Desserts, Fresh Fruit Juices, Chinese Drinks, Bird's Nest and Harsmar, and a large variety of Sago-based options. If you're having trouble deciding, they have a popular selection page and the staff is happy to give recommendations. In the winter, they offer a seasonal menu with hot desserts like Stewed Papaya Sweet Soup, Tofu Custard with Sesame Paste and Sago with Taro and Chestnut in Coconut juice.
Their prices are super affordable, averaging around 5 bucks, with the most expensive item being a family-sized mango pudding weighing in at 2 pounds for $13.95.
Sweet House is located at 2129 86th Street, between 21st Avenue and Bay 28th Street, and is open Sunday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., on Friday and Saturday until 12 a.m (718-266-8688; Sweet House Drink and Desserts). And the manager told us they're opening a location on Bayard Street in Chinatown this year... and soon!