Ahh glorious summer. How I miss your bright sunny days and your everlasting warm glow. But really, I miss summer because I miss eating ice cream and shaved ice desserts. Sure, I can eat shaved ice any time of year, but you really have to be insane to be chomping away at a bowl of ice in minus 10 degrees weather. But if you do, I salute you. In anticipation of summer, TripQue decided to put together our definitive guide on the 8 most badass shave ice desserts from around the world.
Taiwanese Snow Ice
Taiwanese snow ice is a relatively new concept that is a rift off of the traditional Taiwanese “baobing(刨冰).” It can best be described as a cross between ice cream, a frappucino and a fruit salad. The dessert has a beautiful creamy texture comprised of ribbons of flavored ice that’s packed full of fruity, sweet awesomeness. Like traditional Taiwanese shaved ice, the dessert is topped off with various seasonal fruits, condensed milk, red beans and various other toppings that you can choose from. If you ever decide to try this in Taiwan, you’ll have your choice of an entire fruit buffet spread to really garnish your snow ice to your liking.
A staple of any fine Filipino establishment, halo-halo is a supremely popular Filipino dessert made from shaved ice and sweet, sweet evaporated milk. While there are many variations of halo-halo, kidney beans and ubeng pula(purple yam) are the most popular ingredients heaped onto the top of this delicious monstrosity. If you are dying to try halo-halo in the US, Goldilocks bakery and Jollibees are two local places that you can get your fix.
Hawaiian Shave Ice
If you are an American, chances are you have probably have eaten some sort of variation of hawaiian shave ice. Its origins can be traced back to Japanese plantation workers who brought the concept of kakigori(Japanese shave ice) with them to Hawaii. As the case of spam musubi, foods in Hawaii go through some weird American transformation/bastardization. Therefore, creating what we now know as Hawaiian shave ice. The premise is simple, use a machine to shave ice blocks into fine snow grains and top it all off with an assortment of syrup flavors. Instant summer magic.
At its core , Kakigori is comprised of three things: ice, condensed milk and fruit syrup. So even if you aren’t in Japan, you can stop by your local supermarket and make yourself a makeshift kakigori(I hear smuker’s fruit jam makes for a decent fruit syrup substitute). Popular fruit syrup flavors include strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea, grape and even sweet plum. Its only a matter of time before those crazy Japanese put out a pasta and tomato flavored syrup to really make your toes curl.
Thai Nam Kang Sai (น้ำแข็งใส)
Nam kang sai has the distinction of being one of the few shaved ice dessert that uses coconut milk instead of condensed milk. At its core, ice is mixed with syrup and topped off with an abundance of unrecognizable toppings. Mark Wiens from Migrationology has done an in-depth write up on how to actually eat and enjoy nam kang sai.
For the longest time, whenever I ate cendol, I always wonder what those green worm-like things were. The fact that it was green, I naturally assumed it was some kind of vegetable and therefore extremely healthy. It wasn’t till later on that I found out the green stuff is actually rice flour colored with green food coloring. The rest of the dessert is comprised of coconut milk and palm sugar with shaved ice(duh). When you pair the whole thing with red beans, its tremendously refreshing, especially when you are baking in unbearable heat on the side of the road. At the end of the day, Indonesian cendol is simply 2 legit 2 quit.
Patbingsu is the perfect treat for those ridiculously hot/humid Korean summers. Comprised of pat, meaning red beans and bingsu, meaning shaved ice, its a very common summer dessert found all over Korea and in your local Koreatown. Most Koreans top off their patbingsu with a healthy scoop of ice cream as well as some condensed milk. In the picture above, fruits also play a very significant role in helping at least give the impression of healthiness in this fantastic dessert.
Malaysian Ice Kacang/ais kacang
Ice kacang/ais kacang is an uber popular dessert in Malaysia as well as Singapore. While it may look like any of these other desserts on this list, the Malays are not content to be like everyone else with their boring ole ice and syrup. Instead, ice kacang is always topped off with corn alongside red beans, fruit syrup and other toppings. It takes a certain boldness to throw corn onto a dessert, since in Western culture, corn is treated as a savory additive rather than sweet. After eating ice kacang in Singapore and in Kuala Lumpur, I can assure you, it somehow…works. Typically, the ice is flavored with condensed milk and topped off with a scoop of ice cream and chendul ingredients. When you are sweating through your Dri-fit underwear(don’t pair it with khakis) in 100% humidity in July, ice kacang is a life saver.