Watermelon and apple offer color and drama, but the most distinctive ingredients in this Japanese dessert are rather pale. What look like mini-marshmallows are shiratama, "cakes" of glutinous rice. Hidden, and hard to photograph, are translucent, gelatinous kuzukiri, noodle-like strips traditionally prepared from the powdered root of the kudzu vine. Since kuzukiri and shiratama ($6.50) don't have much flavor themselves, a dish of dark syrup was offered on the side for dipping or, eventually, pouring on top.
53 West 106th St. (Columbus Ave.-Central Park West), Manhattan