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
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
Before the posting of the comment below, I had no idea what business the former Orloff's established on this site in August 1902. The inscription was nonetheless interesting for its placement, at eye level with passengers arriving at the elevated Bay Parkway station of the D train. Crane your neck and you might spot similar signage elsewhere in the city, even where the el has been dismantled.
As it happens, this Brooklyn elevated station reportedly wasn't contracted for until 1913 and completed until 1917; I don't know whether the Orloff's inscription was added after the fact or was simply positioned at a very fortuitous height. The more recent effort at attracting the mass transit crowd, in yellow and red, advertises a street-level restaurant called 86 Fu Kee.
Orloff's Surviving signage at 2211 86th St. (22nd-23rd Aves.), Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
For a brunch outing, the pho dac biet ($4.95) filled this "combination special big bowl" with rice noodles and "six differences" of beef in beef soup. Brisket, eye of round, and frank (I presume "flank") are familiar enough; omosa (tripe), navel (cartilage from you-know-where) and tendon each add their version of chewy or gelatinous texture, but less pleasantly and less substantively than a good Italian tripe stew. Next time I'll likely limit myself to the more traditional cuts.
We also split a plate of banh cuon cha lua ($5.50), an array of steamed glutinous rice crepes containing minced mushroom, served with Vietnamese ham, toasted garlic, plus sprouts and other assorted veggies.
Pho Tay Ho 2351 86th St., Bath Beach, Brooklyn 718-499-0199
(This venue is closed.) This grocery also prepares sushi and a limited menu of cooked items — though not often, lately, judging by the sullenness of the fellow behind the register. From the limited packaged-food selection I bought a Golden Sound brand basil seed drink with honey (350 ml.; $1.50); it's a little sweeter, and less odd-tasting, than the DeDe version of this drink I found in Jersey City.
Fuji 227 Sullivan St. (Bleecker-West 3rd Sts.), Manhattan 212-674-5242