One of my favorite desserts of all time is Taiwanese shaved ice. I’ve had a really hard time finding good Taiwanese shaved ice here in the U.S. While there are quite a few shops that offer Taiwanese-styled shave ice, I usually cannot find my favorite toppings that are commonly found at almost any street vendor or shaved ice shop in Taiwan. Most of the places in the US offer toppings like red bean, green bean, pudding, boba, taro. But they don’t offer sweet rice balls, taro balls, yam balls, jellies, and other chewy substances that are standard toppings in Taiwan.
Check out hungry girl in taipei’s post on Raohe night market for a display of typical shaved ice toppings.
For my weekend eating trip in Monterey Park and Arcadia, I was looking for shaved ice. I came across Sinbala. People raved that this place has authentic Taiwanese shaved ice. And it is really close to Din Tai Fung. So after a satisfying dinner at Din Tai Fung, I dragged Boyfriend to Sinbala.
Surprisingly, after only having to wait ten minutes at Din Tai Fung, we ended up waiting quite a bit longer at Sinbala. About 20-30 minutes. While waiting, I browsed the menu. I was tempted to go next door to Bin BIn Konjac. I’ve never been there, but they had pictures outside of all different kinds of shaved ice combinations that looked really good. But I decided to wait it out.
Sinbala is more like a tapioca tea cafe than a restaurant. It offers a lot of Taiwanese street foods, tea drinks, and of course: shaved ice! We were able to look over the menu while waiting, and one of the guys working there took our order while we were waiting too.
While Sinbala offers a lot of Taiwanese food dishes, I didn’t expect them to taste that great since it is a cafe and it looked like the staff was all pretty much rung by young people. Keeping that in mind, I didn’t order too much.
Once we were finally seated, our food arrived almost instantly. We started with an order of sausages. I wish I had snapped pictures of the menu. They have all these variations on the chinese sausage. You can get it with about 30 different types of sauces such as kiwi, passion fruit, etc. I ended up just ordering a plate of sausages with garlic.
The sausages were yummy. They were hot, crispy on the outside, sweet and salty on the inside. It reminded me of the delicious sausages on a stick I had at the night markets in Taiwan. Boyfriend thought they were a bit too salty to eat by themselves and wanted some rice to go with it. I should have ordered the sausage with rice for him.
I also ordered the meatball (called Ba Wan in Taiwanese)
The meatball has a thick, chewy clear outside layer, with meat on the inside. This one was big, puffy, and surprisingly tasty. I wasn’t expecting much, but this is one of the best ba wan I’ve had outside of Taiwan. The one thing I found odd was the use of stinky bamboo which was mixed with the meat. I liked the taste, but I’ve never eaten a ba wan with that inside before. The outside shell was chewy and thick. The meat was tasty and the sauce used was just like the sauces used in Taiwan. Yum! After eating the meatball, I wished I had ordered the oyster pancake (ou wa jien). Oh well, next time.
Each table had a pitcher of cold water too, with the cute Sinbala symbol.
Finally, the shaved ice! They had an eight topping shaved ice for only $5.99! Much cheaper than other shaved ice places I’ve been to.
The toppings are buried underneath. They would have looked prettier on top, but oh well. The ice was finely shaved. There was lots of condensed milk and brown sugar syrup. I don’t remember all eight toppings, but I believe they were: red beans, green beans, pudding, taro balls (au ni), sweet rice balls, tapioca balls, lychee jelly, grass jelly.
It was delicious! I wish it was a bit bigger with more ice and more of each topping, but then I probably would not have been able to finish it.
Boyfriend also ordered a milk tea with tapioca and I ordered a lychee juice with ai yu jelly. The service was really good. I wasn’t expecting much, as the cafes in San Diego don’t usually have great service. But they were really attentive here. Being inside, I really felt like I was transported to Taiwan. The place was decorated with all these cutesy toys. The staff spoke Mandarin and Taiwanese (even to Boyfriend!). It reminded me of one of the tea places my cousins would take me to hang out at when I visit Taiwan.
I left feeling really happy.
So while I was sorting out my photographs, I accidentally misplaced some photos. Somehow, the delicious vanilla almond cookies I bought from JJ Bakery ended up in this folder. SInce JJ Bakery is nearby Sinbala, I decided to add the pictures here:
These cute cookies are crunchy, with slivers of almonds in the middle. I really enjoyed them and I love the look of the cookie.