Coffee is brewed in a pan of hot sand at this new dessert bar and hookah lounge in Long Island City

Sands of Persia, a new dessert bar and hookah lounge, just opened to much fanfare in Long Island City, serving the sort of Middle Eastern- and Asian-inspired treats that haven’t largely gotten their due in New York just yet. 

Sands of Persia
Photograph: Christopher Balbi

Let’s start with what we believe to be the destination’s piece de resistance: the Turkish sand coffee. Traditionally, Turkish java is brewed in a pan filled with sand and heated over an open flame. The fine coffee grinds and water are then added to a small long-handled pot called cezce, traditionally made of brass, copper, silver or gold (most recently, also made with aluminum, ceramics or stainless steel) and boasting a specially designed pouring lip. The concoction is then mixed and placed in hot sand, which creates and even heat and helps the coffee foam almost immediately. 

Given New Yorkers’ dedication to all things coffee, this not-generally-known method of brewing is sure to delight many palates.

Sands of Persia
Photograph: Christopher Balbi

The flavor profile is also used within a specific dessert offering, the For a Sheikh—a Turkish sand coffee affogato with gold leaf garnish. The sweets menu also includes a Fingerlime Chiffon Meringue (fingerlime yuzu cake, meringue, rosemary, orange mousse and lime gel), the Persimmon Wide (persimmon tuile with almond crumble, truffle oil, yogurt, butternut squash, creme brûlée and balsamic vinegar honey gel), the Desert Sunset (banana pudding with parle sugar jaggery) and the All is Well (brownie with soft serve), among other dishes.

In addition to the coffee, the drink list includes mocktails and zero-proof drinks and, although alcohol isn’t served on premise, the shop does hold a smoke license. Patrons will get to choose from over 30 different hookah flavors, each one served in custom-made, premium instruments made from steel and featuring a diamond base that is shaped in the wings of a butterfly. 

Sands of Persia
Photograph: Christopher Balbi

In terms of decor, expect the design to be as high-end and sophisticated as the menu is: plush banquettes sit over 70 people indoors while the heated outdoor space can accommodate up to 44 guests.

Although they’ve only officially opened a few days ago, the owners of Sands of Persia (Abhi Malhotra, the founder of luxury car club King Luxe Club, and Salil Mehta, the chef and founder of Wau on the Upper West Side, Laut in Union Square and Singapura in the Gramercy neighborhood) already have plans to expand. A second, three-story, 11,000-square-foot location is set to land in Dubai later this year, followed by spots in Delhi and in London.  

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