Although we’re still in the chokehold of winter, frosty desserts are a year long fascination for anyone who has a sweet tooth. Ice cream is certainly a reliable classic, but there’s a new kid on the block, Bonsai Kakigōri, New York City’s first (and only) kakigōri cafe, now open at Canal Street Market.
If you’re not familiar with kakigōri, imagine a mountain of thinly shaved ice with the texture of freshly fallen snow. Bonsai Kakigōri founders Gaston and Theo fell in love with the dessert during a trip to Japan. “At the best cafes, [it] was made from fresh high quality ingredients and with immense care,” they write on their website. “It was complex yet simple, flavorful yet light.” NowThis Food even notes that rich nobles used to obsess over the treat, which dates all the way back to the 11th century. Back then, however, it was made with natural ice (aka snow).

Upon returning to New York, Gaston and Theo realized that other types of shaved ice desserts couldn’t compare to Japan’s melt-in-your-mouth kakigōri. Thus, they set out on a mission to recreate the treat: first by ordering an original hand-cranked kakigōri machine (dubbed “humi” in homage to their favorite kakigōri shop in Tokyo), and then by testing various flavors; their experimentation has resulted in tasty concoctions like the Spiced Apple Caramel, Strawberries & Cream, Campfire S’mores, Coconut Crunch and Matcha Mountain Kakigōri.

To whet your appetite, we encourage you to scroll through Bonsai Kakigōri’s Instagram, which presents creative renditions of the ancient dessert in all its sweet glory. Then make your way over to Bonsai Kakigōri, open at the Canal Street Market on Saturdays (10am to 8pm) and Sundays 10am to 6pm. For more information, click here
Next, check out 9 Spots in NYC to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth and Discover Patisserie Chanson’s Underground Dessert Bar, a Speakeasy of Sweets in NYC.