Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowflake Shaved Ice (Taiwan)


Given my love for Taiwanese snowflake shaved ice, of course I had to try it from the source.

As a quick recap, snowflake or snow ice was introduced in Taiwan a few years ago. Instead of crushing/shaving blocks of ice, water and condensed milk are mixed together and frozen. These condensed milk ice blocks are then finely shaven in special machines. The addition of the condensed milk and the shaving process creates an ice that is much more fine, fluffy, and tastes almost like ice cream rather than ice.

The last time I visited Taiwan, snowflake ice hadn’t yet become popular. So after eating it at various places in LA, I was curious to how it compared in Taiwan.

One thing I observed during my trip was that while snowflake ice is only now developing popularity in the US, its popularity in Taiwan seems to have waned quite a bit. In fact, the places we did try it at were mostly full of tourists. When I mentioned wanting to eat it to my relatives, they preferred the traditional old school shaved ice.

First up, Yu’s Almond Tofu (http://www.yustofu.com.tw/)

I love the way the ice falls into sheets. This spot is quite famous for their almond tofu snow ice. I got the recommendation from Hungry Girl in Taipei. It’s a chain of stores and I found locations in night markets, shopping malls, etc.

Almond tofu is a popular chinese dessert. It’s not actually tofu. It’s chunks of agar agar jelly, flavored with almond milk. The jellies are white in color, resembling tofu.

The snow shaved ice here was quite cheap (about $3-4 US dollars for a bowl). The toppings were a bit limited. They offered traditional shaved ice toppings like mochi balls, red bean, sweetened peanuts, mung bean, chewy jellies, etc. They placed the toppings at the bottom and then covered it with ice. I prefer my toppings to be on top so I know what I’m eating.

We really liked the snow ice here, especially since this is a flavor I haven’t yet seen in the US. Also the price was great. We polished off 3 or 4 between six people in one visit.

Since we had said we wanted to eat shaved ice, my aunt recommended we go to a spot famous for mango shaved ice, Yong Kang 15 (永康15), 15 Yong-kang St., Taipei City; +886 2 2321 3367, formerly known as Ice Monster. It’s not snow ice though, it’s the more traditional (ice chunks) shaved ice.  I was surprised by how pricey it was ($8-10 a bowl). They do use generous portions of fresh mangos and top it with a mango sorbet, but I still thought it was overpriced.

We indulged in one mango flavored one and one with more traditional toppings (red bean, taro).

Even though this wasn’t snow ice, we still liked it. The ice was more finely shaved than the shaved ice you usually encounter. The mangos were juicy and sweet.

While walking to this place, we actually passed by a store advertising snow shaved ice. So after polishing off those two big bowls, what did we do? We stopped in on this snow ice place.

Smoothie House (http://www.smoothie.com.tw/). This place was a huge tourist attraction, with almost all the customers speaking Japanese. It’s very close by to Din Tai Fung, another big attraction for Japanese people so it seemed that a lot of them came here for dessert after eating at DTF.


Here, we ordered the mango snow ice. The ice itself is flavored with mango syrup already. The ice wasn’t as finely shaven as Yu’s Almond Tofu, but it was still good. Mangoes were sweet, and I liked the ice cream on top. There was an artificial taste to the mango ice that I didn’t love though. I actually think the mango flavored ice I’ve had at Class 302 in LA was better.

I  found the wall decor at this place quite amusing. They had their mascot posing in front of various well-known cities. Some of the illustrations didn’t make much sense but they were amusing to look at.

 


We polished off two large ones..and wanted more. So we got a third one. After this, we finally left. For those keeping count, that was 5 shaved ices in a span of about 2 hours shared by 5 people.

After all this “research,” I’m happy to report that the snow ice I ate in Taiwan is just as good in Los Angeles (though Taiwan was a bit cheaper). Usually I’m disappointed by the Taiwanese food here in the US as it never seems to live up to the version in Taiwan, but for once, this is not the case.

If you are curious as to where best to get snow ice in the LA area, my favorites are Class 302, Pa Pa Walk, and Fluff Ice.

 

20 Responses to “Snowflake Shaved Ice (Taiwan)”

  1. 1

    An — January 20, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    omg!! I’m so hungreeee! In my first year of college I bought a shaved ice maker (where you turn it by hand) and every afternoon would have a bowl of shaved ice topped with condensed milk. Yeah, I gained a lot of weight.

    • Kirbie replied: — January 20th, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

      I have one of those small shaved ice makers too! My mom bought it for me in college. I have to confess, I didn’t use it much. It seemed like so much work. haha

  2. 2

    Darlene — January 20, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

    I hate to admit it but I have not yet tried snow ice even though I’ve been reading about it for approximately a year. As a huge fan of almond jello, I think I could devour a few bowl of tofu by myself. Your photo of it (and all the rest of the desserts) is so pretty.

    • Kirbie replied: — January 20th, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

      I love almond jello too, which is why I loved eating this flavor of the snow ice in Taiwan. Haven’t yet seen this flavor here though. If you get a chance to visit a place in LA, I recommend it. I personally like going to Fluff Ice the most right now because it’s not an over crowded Taiwanese cafe. More like a fro-yo shop.

  3. 3

    caninecologne — January 20, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

    Cool to hear your comparison of the snowflake shaved ice from Taiwan and the U.S.

    But the burning question is, where did that guy get those awesome pants (3rd photo down)! O_o

    • Kirbie replied: — January 23rd, 2012 @ 9:12 am

      Lol. I think you’ll find a lot of clothes like that the night markets and such. My brothers don’t like buying clothes in Taiwan because of that

  4. 4

    Ann P. — January 21, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

    I’m planning a weekend to LA Feb 3-5! and will keep these places in mind! I definitely want to try shaved ice/snowflake ice ASAP after seeing all these yummy looking photos. :)

    • Kirbie replied: — January 23rd, 2012 @ 9:13 am

      Oh I hope you have fun and I hope you enjoy it!

  5. 5

    Judy — January 22, 2012 @ 4:04 am

    The best shaved ice dessert I’ve ever had was at the Taipei Night Market. My first and only trip to Taiwan. Never ever had anything like it. It was so cheap too. About A$1 but that was a l-o-n-g time ago. No one makes shaved ice like the Taiwanese. I think all they did was drizzle chocolate over the softest ice in the world.
    The only thing I don’t like about Taiwanese dessert is that they tend to feature a lot of red bean and green tea items. Other than that, Taiwanese sweets can be really fun. I think bubble tea is a great invention.

    • Kirbie replied: — January 23rd, 2012 @ 9:16 am

      I love the night market shaved ice and yes it is super cheap! With lots of different toppings to choose from. I’m not too much of a fan of red bean desserts either. I agree bubble tea is a wonderful invention =)

  6. 6

    Ruby — January 22, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

    I can eat two by myself, and justify it by telling myself there’s fruit and beans and vegetable(taro root), or oatmeal and almond…healthy ingredients!(and trying hard to ignore the sugar…)

    • Kirbie replied: — January 23rd, 2012 @ 9:18 am

      Haha, the sugar is the part that makes it unhealthy. Esp all the sugar in condensed milk. Wow, you can eat 2 by yourself! That’s impressive

  7. 7

    Matt — August 12, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    I have been trying to make these blocks at my house since I got back from Hawaii after seeing this at the snow factory in Oahu but haven’t been able to get the recipe right. I have been trying to make the ice blocks with a mixture of water, condensed milk, milk powder and flavored syrups but not getting the taste I want. I was wondering if you know where I may be able to get recipes or if anyone here may know how to start out.

    • Kirbie replied: — August 13th, 2013 @ 12:15 am

      I don’t know, sorry! I haven’t yet experimented myself. There are companies that sell the ice blocks premade.

  8. 8

    Mike — January 6, 2014 @ 11:31 am

    Kirbie,

    Know of any places for good snow shaved ice in San Diego? We lived in Taiwan for about 4 months and absolutely love the snow shaved ice there… and while we have found a few places in LA that do a decent job with it, we have yet to find anything in San Diego. =(

    • Kirbie replied: — January 6th, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

      I’ve explored quite a few in SD. The best one I think is Yogurt Swirl in Mira Mesa.

  9. 9

    sophia — January 25, 2014 @ 1:46 am

    Hi, I want to buy the block ice maker but don’t know where to buy, can you help?

  10. 10

    sophia — January 25, 2014 @ 1:47 am

    Also can you recommend where to buy a good ice shaver machine too :)

    • Kirbie replied: — January 26th, 2014 @ 11:56 pm

      unfortunately, i cannot help. I do not have any experience buying the ice blocks or machines.

  11. 11

    Matt — January 27, 2014 @ 4:58 am

    Hi Sophia
    There are a few ways to go about getting the machines you need. There are several companies Taiwan that you can order from and also a California one but they want to charge 25,000$ to set you up with a turn key operation. You can get started looking at sunny syrup food company from Taiwan to get an idea of things. It will cost you around 5k before shipping. I am trying to bring this product to my area but have not been able learn much from the people that are selling it on the west coast, most have been very secretive. Idk why when the info can just be bought online. If you have any other questions you can email me at matthg478@yahoo.com and maybe you will have some answers for me bc I definitely don’t have all of them.
    Matt

Leave a Comment

*

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 1,219,839 bad guys.