As my dining buddies headed down one short aisle of this halal market, I made my usual beeline for the point-of-purchase display. Among the locally made baked goods were these three pastries (about $5 per container), whose labels wore an Algerian name. "Blossom water," probably orange blossom water, was common to crunchy, sticky griwash; coconut-covered, cakelike richbonds (the "bond," a thin seam of apricot jam); and weighty, grainy, date-paste-filled semolina makroot. The third of these was the consensus favorite of our small scouting party.
Regarding a pair of hanging lanternlike objects inside the market, clearly handmade of paper and hand-lettered in Arabic, a fellow customer observed that they were gifts of children from a nearby school. Community connections such as this speak well of any shop.
Al Sahaba 1955 Bath Ave. (Bay 23rd St.-20th Ave.), Bath Beach, Brooklyn 347-492-5680
(This venue is closed.) Yat Yat's bewilderingly long menu of desserts and drinks is distinguished by its roster of tong sui. Literally "sugar water," the name applies to a variety of sweet, soupy, hot desserts. Here the Hong Kong-born proprietors mix their own pastes every working day — though they use electric blenders, not a granite-wheeled grinder, and begin their efforts only after lunchtime, perhaps timed to the recess bell at nearby schools. On my visits some of the more classic flavors, such as almond and black sesame, weren't yet ready in mid-afternoon.
Shown: a 50-50 mix of two sago pearl tong suis, featuring red bean and purple rice ($3.50), the latter combined with and cooled by coconut milk; bean curd and egg tong sui ($3). My dining buddy's gut reaction was "sweet egg drop soup."
Yat Yat Sweet 1926 Bath Ave. (at Bay 22nd St.), Bath Beach, Brooklyn 718-513-6355 www.YatYatSweet.com Closed Monday
(This venue is closed.) Falooda is one of those concoctions of warm climates that might be served as a beverage or as a dessert. At this Pakistani restaurant, grainy chunks of vanilla ice cream and a hefty helping of boiled vermicelli combine with milk, rose water, and basil seeds to make a sort of South Asian ice cream float ($5). As for what section of the menu it rightly belongs to, you make the call.
Al Falah Restaurant & Sweets 1969 Bath Ave. (at 20th Ave.), Bath Beach, Brooklyn 718-737-1293