Say hello to the dessert trend that deserves your undivided attention.
Worth a trip: Hong Kong egg waffle ($8) at Ramen-San
59 W. Hubbard St. 312-377-9950
Growing up, my mom kept one Hail Mary dinner specialty in her back pocket that had the power to make me and my brother do anything she asked: homemade waffles with ice cream. The unorthodox entree broke all the rules, which is probably why we loved it so. And as creamy vanilla custard melted into the grooves of hot-off-the-iron buttermilk waffles, I think my mom knew tidy rooms and completed chore lists were in her future. (Though I’m not sure how she tolerated the sugar rush that followed.) Perhaps the tug of nostalgia was what made me give in when I spotted a sophisticated version of the childhood pleaser at Ramen-San in River North.
The ramen spot’s egg waffle is a twist on a dessert with roots in Hong Kong and Macau, China. Traditionally, egg-based waffle batter is cooked between special plates that create a bubble wrap-like texture. It’s a popular street food that’s usually eaten plain or with fresh fruit, kind of like a crepe, and has finally made its way to Chicago. Ramen-San’s version ups the ante by stuffing the waffle with vanilla bean ice cream, black sesame condensed milk, macerated strawberries (and blueberries the night I visited) and a healthy sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
Egg waffle fanatics, you can also try the trend at Snow Junkie in Wrigleyville (3759 N. Racine Ave.) and J Smile 51 in Bridgeport (3051 S. Archer Ave.). It’s just as fun to devour as you’d imagine. My friend and I picked off warm, airy waffle domes and dunked them in the fruit- and sesame seed-speckled ice cream, using our spoons to dive deeper into the glass the waffle is served in. The egg batter was cooked perfectly, allowing ice cream to seep into the waffle but not sog it down. Jammy berries and nutty sesame seeds offered an addictive contrast to those rich flavors. It’s the kind of dessert you could certainly eat for dinner if you’re into breaking rules.