Chocolate Travel: Kee’s Chocolates in NYC

The Boy and I took a trip to New York City recently so that we could visit with good friends and experience their magical Manhattan lifestyles. (I also went to a totally fabulous and low-key bachelorette party for one of my beloved college roomies, which left me brimming over with both early-twenties nostalgia and a dreamy optimism for early-thirties futures.) As with so many of our trips out-of-town, we planned our food first and everything else second.

Kee's Chocolates

Kee's Chocolates

I consider it an obligation to visit Kee’s Chocolates when I’m in New York. The truffles and bonbons are among my favorites in the US. Kee Ling Tong, the chocolatier, specializes in using fresh ingredients in her chocolates. When a chocolate’s description says “fennel,” for example, you can expect to taste and feel the texture of real minced fennel. The Kee’s website explains “The available flavors change with availability of ingredients, and certain flavors remain seasonal.”

Kee’s is a fascinating study in what can be done in a big city full of cash-hearty food lovers that cannot necessarily be done elsewhere. The chocolates are not cheap but, given their quality and the cost of ingredients, they should not be. Most often, Kee makes the chocolates fresh throughout the day in the kitchen next door to her SoHo shopfront, and the shop closes down as soon as the stock is sold out. There is no mail order business – the company will not compromise on freshness of the chocolates – and customers are told that chocolates should be eaten within a few days of purchasing and refrigerated for safe-keeping. Everything else is simple. The chocolate is packaged in plain, crisp cardboard, the shop is sparse and clean. The chocolates speak for themselves. This is all done to great success. Not long ago, readers voted Kee’s the best place to get chocolate in NYC.

Some of my menu favorites? The Balsamic (dark chocolate ganache with balsamic vinegar and pecans), the Black Rose (dark chocolate truffle with black tea infused with rose petals), the Coconut (dark chocolate truffle coated with shredded toasted coconut), and the Lemongrass Mint (a layer of dark chocolate lemongrass ganache with a touch of mint). For a really wild flavor experience, the Passion Fruit (bonbon chocolate filled with dark chocolate ganache) can’t be beat. It makes my taste buds go “Woaaaaaah!”

The Boy is known for buying ALL of the Crème brûlée (dark chocolate bonbon filled with crème brûlée) available in one visit, then carefully spreading out consumption over the next twenty-four hours. A quick perusal of online reviews suggests that he may not be the only chocolate lover with this habit. Neither of us would turn down any Kee’s chocolate, however. On this visit we bought one of each, which worked out perfectly for a box of twenty-four delicious treats. YUM!

Kee's Chocolates

Kee's Chocolates box of 24

Kee’s has two locations:

  • Kee’s Chocolates SoHo
    80 Thompson Street
    New York, NY 10012
    Monday through Friday, 9am to 7pm
    Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 7pm
    212 334-3284
  • Kee’s Chocolates Midtown
    452 Fifth Avenue (inside HSBC)
    New York, NY 10018
    Tuesday through Friday, 11:00am to 5:30pm
    212 525-6099


One Response to “Chocolate Travel: Kee’s Chocolates in NYC”

  1. Victoria (District Chocoholic) on April 11th, 2011

    I thoroughly enjoy passionfruit chocolates, and more and more chocolatiers are making them. Balsamic-infused chocolates are a new trend that I have been surprisingly pleased with in general. Balsamic caramel can be quite nice if done well.

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    Bittersweet Notes is an open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. I invite you to join me as I explore the story of chocolate and the life stories of those involved with chocolate at its many stages of production and consumption.

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