The American shaved ice is usually the Hawaiian snow cone, which gets its taste from multiple flavored syrups, like this the picture below.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of this type of shaved ice because you’re tongue becomes red, blue, purple, or whatever flavor syrups you were eating. And it is just syrup+ice=bland.
Taiwanese shaved ice involves lots and lots of toppings, like boba, mochi, red bean, green bean, mango, strawberries, rice balls, and so much more. There are two types of shaved ice: baobing (刨冰) and xue hua bing (雪花冰). They have their similarities, but they also have their differences.
Baobing roughly translates into shaved ice. People use a machine to chop up the ice and then use either brown sugar syrup or condescended milk for a base. The next step is your toppings selection, which as I mentioned above, is a lot. Some vendors even offer ice cream or pudding as topping! In Taiwan, one of the most famous and popular baobing flavor is mango.
This restaurant is known throughout the 626 as one of the best Taiwanese restaurant. All the waiters and all the chefs are Taiwanese and every year, they take two weeks off to go back to Taiwan to visit family. For SinBala, shaved ice is build your own. You select five toppings for $7 plus tax, which is a pretty good deal considering the shaved ice is a good size for 2-4 people. A good thing about this restaurant is you can come here and just order the shaved ice. A lot of people do that, but a lot of people also come here for their regular food as well (which is authentic and tasty for a good price). This place is cash only.
Half and Half
I covered Half and Half in my first post about Taiwanese food and how they make their boba in-house everyday. Half and Half also serves Taiwanese food and desserts like shaved ice. They offer a build your own brown sugar shaved ice with four toppings of your choice for $5.85 plus $0.85 if you want syrup or they have set flavor combinations like red bean milk shaved ice or grass jelly, green bean milk shaved ice for $6.85. Their portion size is a little bit bigger compared to SinBala. Though Half and Half does serve food, it does not have a lot of variety of food compared to SinBala. I recommend coming to this place for dessert after your meal. This place is cash only.
Xue Hua Bing (雪花冰)
My personal favorite, Taiwanese snow ice. You’re probably going like huh? Snow ice? Yes snow ice and it tastes absolutely heavenly when it is done right. Rather than the flaky pieces of ice in baobing and snow cones, it is soft and has a snow-like quality. To make this delicious treat, people add the flavor such as green tea or sesame, mix it into a base of milk and water, and then freeze it into blocks. The blocks are then placed onto the ice shaver (which is a different type of machine then baobing), shaved it into thin sheets, and then its toppings galore.
Blockheads is the only one on my recommendation list for both shaved ice and snow ice that is solely dedicated to serving snow ice. The menu is a more modern take on toppings and flavors. It still has the traditional toppings like honey boba, grass jelly, and red beans, but it also has brownie bites, graham crackers, and toffee crunch. The best way to describe Blockheads and their concept is the Pinkberry of snow ice. You choose what type of snow ice flavor you want, pick the toppings, and pick a drizzle. Regular size snow ice is $4.35 and large is $5.85 while each topping is $0.75. Drizzle is optional, but the first drizzle is free and after that it will cost you $0.25. If you’re too lazy to make your own, they do offer preselected combination flavors for either $6.38 regular and $8.01 large. Being that Blockheads only serves snow ice, it is a great place to come for dessert with your friends since seating is spacious.
Primarily known for their Taiwanese noodle dishes (after all, they are a noodle shop), A & J is a hidden gem in Arcadia that serves delicious snow ice. The Arcadia location is the only one that offers the dessert. They do not have as much toppings and flavor options compared to Blockheads, but hey, quality over quantity. Flavor options include milk, taro, and black sugar while toppings include mango, pudding, rice ball, red bean, black sugar, mochi, and condensed milk . The snow ice usually costs around $5 with the toppings and can be easily shared with 2-4 people. Definitely come to this place for food and the snow ice. You would not regret it. This place is cash only.
What are your go to shaved ice places in the 626? Comment down below!