Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lunch and Iced Tea at Radiance Tea House

Radiance Tea House is just so cute.
Really, really cute.

It's right off the beaten path near Carnegie Hall, at 55th and 7th, near touristy diners boasting world famous cheesecakes, but once you walk a few steps more, you'll find yourself in the tranquil and quaint scenery of Radiance Tea House.

I had been wanting to try this place because I love tea like nobody's business, and they feature two separate tea menus: one for hot tea and one for iced tea.  And they serve Asian food for lunch and dinner.  Cute cute!

Thanan was in town to find an apartment for his imminent move to NYC on June 1st, so we met for lunch.  We both opted for the rice ball box, where we got to select 3 out of 6 rice ball options (lobster, wasabi shrimp, veggie inari, spicy salmon, tuna mayo, and sour plum) and comes with a small house salad and chilled edamame. 

Here is what we got!

Tall glasses of iced tea with super fun and super flexi straws.  I got lychee, at the waiter's recommendation, and Thanan got peach.  My tea was wonderful with a noticeable yet subtle lychee flavor.

My rice ball box.  Super cute. 

Thanan's rice ball box.  A lovely butterflied shrimp with wasabi along the spine.

The salmon rice ball.  I picked off the ball of salmon on top and popped it in my mouth, but Thanan corrected my primitive ways and told me I needed to smear it inside the seaweed rice package.

Turns out the smearing is not necessary as more salmon was evenly distributed inside the rice package.  The seaweed was very good.

The veggie inari, another waiter recommendation.  The exterior is made out of some bean curd, and the filling had various vegetables including mushrooms that added great flavor when you bit into them.

The salad that neither of us ate.

The rice ball box was a great light lunch.  I did find that the sushi rice had a slightly sour taste, but the same traditional sushi texture.  It was still good, but just different.

The question of dessert came up, and Thanan immediately pounced on the coconut black rice for two served in a bamboo stalk.  I had been eyeing the other dessert special, mango agar with jasmine infused tapioca, but I did find the bamboo stalk perplexing, so we ordered what his instinct beckoned.

The waiter came out with our dessert about twenty minutes later.  Let me take a couple seconds to say that I really loved our waiter.  He was SO outgoing and friendly, with a great sense of humor and showed genuine excitement for their menu items. Thanan and I both agreed, that if we should ever open up a restaurant, we would seek out this waiter and recruit him for our own establishment.  I think Greeshma should come out here alone just for the waiter, because she will love him to bits.

Anyway, the waiter came out with our dessert, and it appears as a whole, cylindrical bamboo stalk, but then he pulls the bamboo apart to present it as two perfect halves filled with purplish coconut sticky rice:

Because it is served for two, we each got a half, a small glass of coconut milk and a plate of cinnamon-sugar toasted almonds.

I officially want to eat all my rice in bamboo stalks.

The cinnamon sugar toasted almonds were crunchy and sweet.

The trifecta of milk + almonds + rice.

I really liked the dessert as the full package, but Thanan did not care for the almonds and gave his bowl to me, which I was totally down with.  The dessert is a bit expensive ($10), but was so overwhelmingly cute that the splurge was completely warranted.  I am now going to have my mom teach me how to make coconut sticky rice and buy some clean bamboo stalks.

Radiance Tea House = total win: great atmosphere, solid food and service, lovely bathrooms and mochi! 

158 West 55th Street
New York, NY‎
(212) 217-0442‎
Radiance Tea House and Books on Urbanspoon


  1. shut up, this is the CUTEST place i've ever seen!! rice ball box lunch?! i am exceedingly jealous. and that DESSERT!!! woman, that bite looks like perfection.

    also i think the name 'radiance' is so happy and wonderful. i need to go!

  2. ugh, i am looking at the purple rice in bamboo again. and everything else on that dessert plate. need!!

  3. everything looks so delicious! especially the lychee tea and the inari sushi~yum :)