Lower East Side — It was a friend who recently alerted me to the realization that most of the newer and many of the most popular ice cream spots in the city are located in the lower neighborhoods of Manhattan. Two of my favorites, Mikey Likes It and Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, are located in Alphabet City and Chinatown, respectively, and likewise highly respectable parlors il laboratorio del gelato, Big Gay Ice Cream, Morgenstern's, Van Leeuwen, among others, are peppered prominently throughout every neighborhood below 14th Street, compared to the paucity of them that exist above 14th.
One of the newest ice cream places enjoying a nice spike in interest and curiosity is 10Below Ice Cream, with locations located in Chinatown, the East Village, Flushing (Queens), and on Allen Street on the Lower East Side, where I recently visited for the first time with some friends.
Drawing the curiosity of neighborhood locals, ice cream aficionados, and social media "foodies" is the type of ice cream being served, a Thai-style rolled ice cream, constructed from scratch, and to order, mixing a liquid custard base on a chill plate with various other ingredients, spread thin to set the ice cream, then scraped into wide rolls, and optionally topped with any number of other ingredients.
The final product makes for a visually unique — and appetizingly photogenic — final product.
Not one easily taken in by appearances, however, I would save my final judgment for how the ice cream actually tastes — and it tasted excellent. I admit to some initial skepticism, as I usually find that foods featured for their novelty or style often fall short on substance. Not the case here. The ice cream itself boasts a comfortingly smooth yet airy consistency, showcasing its flavors without an overdose of sugar, and any additions (all fresh and high quality) are used to enhance the ice cream-eating experience, and not overwhelm or distract from it.
My crew of of six first-timers easily went through six large cups of ice creams of different flavors. And if that's not convincing enough, the number of smiles of other happy customers — of all walks of life and of all ages — throughout the shop confirm that 10Below itself confirms that downtown is the destination for the city's best ice cream.
10Below Ice Cream | 32 Allen St, New York, NY 10013 | (212) 965-1336 | 10belowicecream.com