Spring is slowly fading away, and with the summer months are coming, it's time for shaved ice, a wonderful sugary delicacy that can be found all throughout Los Angeles. There are many variations of this icy treat throughout different cultures. Think Hawaiian, Filipino, Mexican, Korean ... the list goes on. But Los Angeles is lucky to be the home of a sizable Taiwanese population and with their influence, Taiwanese snow shaved ice (or snow cream) has definitely made a mark on local the dessert scene.
There's a difference between snow cream and regular shaved ice; the distinction lies in the ingredients. Snow cream is made by freezing a block of flavored, sweet milk (as opposed to just a block of ice) and shaving it down into flaky ribbons of layered snow.
Some people call it shaved snow; others have dubbed it snow ice. Many compare it to frozen cotton candy. Regardless of what terminology you prefer, here are our five favorite places to get a fix:
Class 302 is a pioneer in the Los Angeles dessert scene and the first to introduce snow cream to Angelenos. Though it markets itself as a lunch joint, most people only go for their dessert. The green tea shaved snow, pleasantly earthy, is topped with a heaping of fruit and a thick chocolate drizzle. Other variations include mango and chocolate, but nothing quite beats the original. Made with sweet milk, it's seasoned with a generous red beans and mochi-like rice cakes. You're also allowed to build your own combination. 1015 Nogales St #125, Rowland Heights, CA 91748.
Tasty To Go
Tasty To Go is located in a nondescript strip mall and at first glance looks like an American-Chinese fast food joint. Yes, if you want your fix of orange chicken and saucy chow mein, this is the place will have that. But ask about their dessert selections and I promise you'll be in for a sweet surprise. Tasty To Go doles out a substantial amount of snow cream and is particularly generous with their serving size. We recommend the pudding snow with caramel and boba, drizzled with liberal squiggles of condensed milk. It's designed to give you a major sugar high. 142 E Duarte Rd, Arcadia, CA 91006.
Fluff Ice is snow ice served Pinkberry-style. They have dubbed it "fluff" and their claim to fame is really the sheer diversity of flavors available year-round. There are over 11 selections on the menu and a bulk of them are Asian-inspired. Go for the Thai ice tea and taro. Fluff Ice has three locations throughout Southern California. 500 N Atlantic Blvd #153, Monterey Park, CA 91754.
Blockheads is similar to Fluff Ice -- both sell quick, easy, design-it-yourself snow ice. While there are four main flavors (original, green tea, strawberry, and black sesame), they do take into consideration the time of the year and have a rotating menu of seasonal flavors. Flavors are made from scratch -- minus the artificial flavorings. Blockheads currently has two locations: one on Sawtelle and another on Main Street in Alhambra. 11311 Mississippi Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025.
Pa Pa Walks
Pa Pa Walks is often mistaken for a foot massage parlor. After all, it has cartoon stickers of feet plastered all over the walls. Weird decor aside, they are a dessert eatery dedicated to traditional Taiwanese bites. They're known for their mango shaved ice, but in recent years have launched a section dedicated to snow cream. (They call it snowy on their menu). The cream comes in original, brown sugar, mango, and green tea flavors. Toppings are rather traditional and include red bean, mochi, and boba. They bring it another level by including with each order a scoop of ice cream on the side (as if there wasn't enough ice and cream). 227 W Valley Blvd., Ste 148-B, San Gabriel, CA 91776.