Colombia: El Palacio de los Cholados
Japan: Beard Papa
You may not be able to get your picky eater to try sushi or saag paneer, but even kids with inflexible palates turn adventurous when it comes to ice cream. Exploit that soft spot and take your tots on a tour of worldwide frozen treats—all available in NYC.
Gather up the makings of a sweet smoothie—shaved ice, banana, strawberries, coconut flakes, pineapple and plenty of condensed milk—but instead of blending, eat it as is. That's a Colombian cholado. The pros at El Palacio de los Cholados (83-18 Northern Blvd between 83rd and 84th Sts, Jackson Heights, Queens; 718-779-8020) serve it in plastic cups with a spoon to dig through the fruit, and a straw to slurp up the sweet slush underneath ($5).
Dumpling-and-noodle spot Eton (359 Sackett St between Hoyt and Smith Sts, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-222-2999) uses a machine straight from the Aloha State to bore into ice blocks, producing shaved ice: piles of soft fluff patted into tall, colorful bowls ($3.75 small, $4.25 large). Choose from 20 syrup flavors, including creamsicle and coconut; add condensed milk and toppings like Nutella—and let the feeding frenzy begin.
If you're heating up in Hell's Kitchen—and you will be, after sampling the buffet at Aaheli (826 Ninth Ave between 54th and 55th Sts; 212-969-9010, aahelimidtownwest.com)—cool off with a helping of kulfi ($4). The South Asian ice cream is made in-house with milk, cardamom and either mango or pistachio, served topped with nuts, mango and chocolate sauce, and cut into slices. Yes, slices: Kulfi has a similar consistency to Carvel cake. And who doesn't love that?
Wrap a ball of firm ice cream in mochi, or glutinous-rice-flour paste; dust the whole confection with corn flour; and the result is irresistible—ice cream as finger food. Beard Papa (2167 Broadway between 76th and 77th Sts; 212-799-3770, beardpapa.com) offers flavors ranging from vanilla to green tea and espresso ($1.65 each, $5.50 for four pieces). The frozen globes are small enough for kids to finish off in a few bites, avoiding the typical ice cream drippapalooza.
At swank Ilili (236 Fifth Ave between 27th and 28th Sts; 212-683-2929, ililinyc.com), owner Philippe Massoud serves a sweet from his native Beirut—Lebanese ice cream, commonly known by its Turkish name, dondurma ($9). The price may seem steep, but this is no ordinary ice cream. The dessert has an unusual, chewy texture that comes from cornstarch: nothing overwhelming, just a touch of elasticity that gives a slow-melting mouthful of substance.