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ISO Taiwanese or Korean style "shave ice"

I have visited Hawaii numerous times, even lived there for a time. Among the foods I miss most is the shave ice I could get at Waiola Market and especially at Tropicana's at the foot of St. Louis Heights. I took a Taiwanese friend to Waiola's one time and he was not impressed; He said that the shave ice in Taiwan was better. But also what is interesting is that both Waiola and Tropicana are run by immigrant Asians, not Hawaiian locals. And I consider these places better than the more popular Matsumoto's because of the smooth texture of the ice, more like light sorbet than snow cone.

I know there are chowhounds out there who have had Taiwanese or Korean "shave ice", although I know they wouldn't necessarily call it that (Hawaiian phrase). If there are any leads where I could find these, even in the greater LA area like Ventura, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks

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  1. There are a lot of shaved ice at Taiwanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.

    I believe Sin Ba La and the place Konjac right now to it serves it in Arcadia off of Duarte and Baldwin.

    Shau Mei on Valley in San Gabriel also serves this. As does Shau Mei in Monterey Park on Garfield/Garvey.

    The Shau Mei in the food court next to 99 Ranch in Arcadia also serves this.

    7 Replies
    1. re: WHills

      Yep... the Shau May on Garfield/Garvey (which my wife and I call "Kentucky-fried Shau May" due to the bucket on the roof) is our usual destination for Taiwanese slush; for Korean ice (called "bing su"), we usually go to Ice Kiss, on 6th and Catalina (3 blocks from the Wilshire/Vermont stop on the Red and Purple lines)... but do be aware they serve it in a dog food bowl.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Third the rec for Shau May. It is the quintissential Taiwanese shaved ice (bao bing) for me, and I've never developed a taste for konjac that some of the other places are doing now.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          5th rec on Shau Mei (which used to be a KFC, thus the bucket) -- and yes, I too prefer the one on Garfield/Valley in Alhambra. Love it with glass/grass jelly, almond tofu & "ton yuan" (glutinous rice "soup balls") and of course, the sweetened condensed milk!


          1. re: AquaW

            We go to Shau Mei on valley and garfield. Very good. Recommend the lychee, small tapioca, and pudding. Don't forget to get a lot of condensed milk on top. Interestingly, in the Hawaiian islands, from my experience, only in Kauai'i does it seem to be popular to get the condensed milk "snow cap", but it makes the shave ice so much better. Guppies in Cerritos is also delicious.

            1. re: azibo

              There's also a shau may in Rowland Heights in Hong Kong Supermarket Plaza (colima, between Fullerton & Nogales).

              We went to the one at North Shore Oahu which I thought was Matsumoto - was a lot finer grain than the taiwanese shaved ice at Shau May, the texture was more pillowy soft than icy. In Hawaii they top it with fruit flavorings (even li hing mui - sour plum) and also ice cream (optional). The chinese version definitely has more chew, especially when you throw in the rice balls.

              1. re: notmartha

                I agree the one in Rowland Heights is good as well, although parking can be crazy around there for some reason. The spots are all weird sizes. I wish they did syrups here too. Li hing is delicious. The sharpness of the blade is really the trick to the texture. They are really 2 different dishes, though, the hawaiian and taiwanese. But both are good.

      2. Not all the Shau Mei (or Shau May) are the same in the SGV.

        For Taiwanese shaved ice I prefer te Shau Mei on the corner of Garfield and Valley, next to the Starbucks.

        In Temple City, I lik the Taiwanese shaved ice at Won Won Kitchen, which I wrote about here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355692 .

        Of course Sin Ba La in Arcadia and Rowland Heights is also a good stop for shaved ice.

        There is also a place in the Focus Plaza (SW corner of Valley and Del Mar) that specializes in Taiwanese shaved ice, but the name completely escapes me this early in the morning ...

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I think it's called 108 Ice Cream and Cafe since it (surprise) occupies space #108 in that shopping center. Also across the street in the shopping center next to the Hilton is Pa Pa Walk, a Taiwanese snack place that has good shaved ice.

          1. re: Chandavkl

            a second for pa pa walk! their mango shaved ice is yummy...condensed milk, mangoes and a scoop of ice cream to top it off. it's pretty big too. i think they must shave down a small iceberg to make it.

          2. re: ipsedixit

            yep, tahts the one i go to when i need a shaved ice fix. doesn't hurt that you can get a double espresso in the same complex.

          3. I love Simbala's shaved ice. It's the only place I've been to where the shaved ice is comparable to Taiwan. There's also Guppies in Cerritos, I haven't actually had their shaved ice but I've seen pictures and they're these gargantuan mounds of shaved ice covered in sweetned condensed milk and fruit

            2 Replies
            1. re: crystaw

              Guppy is good. (I've only been to the one on South Street). Trouble is that there's so many kids hanging around there.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                I really disliked Guppy the one time I went, but it was in the winter. I could see how in the summer, with lots of fresh and good fruit around, it would be delicious. When we went, the only thing worth eating was the ice and condensed milk, which I could eat at home. The strawberries and mangos were all kind of pale and hard, and the bananas were browning around the edges. Yes, a huge mound of ice is fun to look at, but unless it tastes good too don't bother.

            2. I like the green tea bingsoo at Gaam (upstairs at the Chapman building on 6th and Alexandria). The place doubles as a antique and art gallery/store of sorts as well.

              Nicole's bingsu at Nicole's on the first floor of the Ktown Plaza is pretty good for a more traditional paht-bingsoo

              1. Thanks for the response. I will be sure to try Sinbala and Shau May (Mei?) first and try to get to the other suggestions after that. I don't need hot weather to eat shave ice, Hawaiian or Taiwanese.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Ogawak

                  ice kiss! definitely the best korean shaved ice.

                  mr. coffee is also good.

                  1. re: greengelato

                    not enough paht!

                    ...and the one for two people is served in a DOG BOWL, for heaven's sake! (at Ice Kiss, that is)

                    1. re: PseudoNerd

                      Yeah, the dog bowl is a bit off-putting. More off-putting, however, are the Froot Loops.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Yeah, it's Fruity Pebbles or nothing! :D

                        But honestly, I prefer Mr. Coffee because their fruit is fresher, staff a little more on top of things, and ambiance much more conducive to sitting and chatting.

                        1. re: Pei

                          Mr. Coffee doesn't have dduk tho...prefer the doggy bowl at Ice Kiss.

                          Second the rec below for Mikawaya's extremely fine textured ice.

                        2. re: PseudoNerd

                          you can ask for extra pat at any joint and they'll give it to you. i always ask for extra dduk and pat.

                    2. i don't know about too many of the korean places, but i've been going to shau may for years and honestly, it can't even begin to compare with the shaved ice in hawaii, condensed milk or not, which (waiola if i remember correctly, although matsumoto was good too - heard it's closed) is super fine and super smooth. if there's anywhere with a real finely shaved ice like that in town i'd love to know!

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: rameniac

                        Since I don't live in the SGV or Koreatown, I will have to do my taste testing on weekends. I will be sure to give a report in the coming week or two.

                        1. re: rameniac

                          Shaved ice in February...only in LA!

                          I finally got to taste SinBaLe's shaved ice. I liked it for the brown sugar syrup, which gives it a caramel taste, if you like that. I think though, for toppings alone, like peanuts, red beans..etc (besides the brown sugar) the Shau Mei on Valley is better..On the other hand, toppings like the mini rice cakes, or taro balls, Sin Ba Le is very good.

                          As for fine-ness of the ice, Bin Bin Konjac, just next door to Sin Ba Le has the smoothest and finest texture! Even though their emphasis is on the healthful Konjac (Konyaku in Japanese) Jelly, their ice was the finest grain I've had here in LA. This place is not as busy and though had a big menu of combinations, had only 3 selections available that night.

                          If I had my way, I'd get the shaved ice from Bin Bin Konjac, pile it high like the Eiffel tower, top it with condensed milk and red bean from Shau Mei, and add some of that brown sugar syrup and taro balls from Sin Ba Le....

                          1. re: HLing

                            I usually custom order mine at Bin Bin Konjac - shaved ice with green bean and red bean, konjac, and green tea ice cream. If I smile nicely, and make conversation, they'll pile it really high...

                            They also offer other sweets, like the mango shaved ice, which almost always runs out by evening. They are also very generous with the warm soups, which are filled with different items like beans, herbs, etc..but it's not 'herb-tasting' at all.

                            1. re: HLing

                              And the konjac deserts there are delicious. I like the soy milk pudding and the mung bean / konjac thingie.

                              Haven't had the shaved ice there (I don't drink milk, and I think w/o the condensed milk it might not be as good).

                              1. re: HLing

                                I may try Bin Bin Konjac since I now know where it is. It was quiet there when I went to Sinbala, but I am looking for finely shaved ice.

                              2. re: rameniac

                                in jtown in downtown la try mikawaya, its actually a manju place (mochi), but they have really finely shaved ice though they won't have as many toppings as a chinese or korean place (personally im fine with that as long as there is red bean and condensed milk). Btw i've had shaved ice many times in taiwan and once in korea and mikawaya much more finely shaved 99% of places in either country


                              3. We recently had a pretty good rendition of Hawaiian shaved ice at, of all places, boba loca (the one in Westwood). It had lychee, mango, red bean, and a ton of other fruits I can't recall...topped off with vanilla ice cream and condensed milk. It was very fulfilling. :)

                                1. Tried Sinbala in Arcadia, based on many recs here. Coming from a Hawaiian Shave Ice background, I found the choices interesting. I chose the standard since I was a bit unfamilar with the options. The ice was pretty fine, but I think Waiola and Tropicana are still finer. I might have enjoyed it more if Sinbala had fruit syrup options, like passion fruit or strawberry ala Hawaiian style, but it was still a good treat.

                                  I may try 108 or PaPa Walk on my next visit to the SGV. I come from Santa Monica.

                                  Since I am searching for finely shaved, I may pass on Shau Mei, based on what Rameniac posted above.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Ogawak

                                    just so you know what to expect, i don't recall papa walk's shaved ice being that finely shaved. but i still think it's worth trying!

                                  2. I'm a huge Sinbala fan. I tried Shau Mei this weekend for the first time and wished I had driven to Arcadia. The ice was chunky and I wasn't crazy about the topping choices, although I love the mango pudding. It seems like you get more toppings at Sinbala, plus the brown sugar, for less money. I also missed the atmosphere of smiling drink pitchers and the waitstaff coming around with hot tea.

                                    1. Hey all, i'm a big fan of taiwanese shaved ice but i live miles away from LA. europe to be precise. anyway, this is a pretty knowledgeable blog site here so was hoping you guys could help me out as i'd like to go about making my own shaved ice here.

                                      first up, when i was in kaohsiung there was ba bao bing which was simple ice shaved with toppings and then there was another variety whose name i couldn't pronounce (so i just used to refer to it as ba bao bing too) which was much smoother ice. its this second one i like most. can someone tell me what its name was and did the block of ice they were shaving comprise frozen water and condensed milk together?

                                      second, the machines used to shave these boys were industrial looking jobbies (reminded me of metal work class at high school) whereas the ones for sale on the internet are pretty plastic looking, will they do a good job?

                                      third, thanks in advance for all your replies and have a manguo ba bao bing for me. it'll be a while til i get my next one.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: sean89

                                        Ba bao bing means "bing (shaved ice) with eight treasures". The ice is just water -- condensed milk is squirted on top. Here in LA you typically choose three toppings or four toppings, plus milk and sometimes sugar syrup (which I don't like).

                                        I've had good luck with the plastic-looking jobbies... the industrial-grade ones are for constant use, and you probably (I assume) wouldn't be doing that.

                                        1. re: sean89

                                          The name for the smoother ice is either Xue3 Hua1 Bing* 雪花冰, or Mian2 Mian2 Bing1*棉棉冰. (*I'm using Chinese Ping Yin, not the Taiwanese system, the difference you can see in the way you spell "Kaohsiung" vs "Gao Shong" . So,I've included the Chinese character if you want to do a Chinese google search) I found these pictures that looked pretty wonderful. It was from a shop in Kaohsiung: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/HPCHUN&...

                                          This kind of ice is made, either shaved, or crushed, with the ice blocks that's a mixture of water, milk and sugar. It has a different texture. You're probably not going to get that texture with a regular shaved ice machine, but here is something made by Rival for reference:http://buy.yahoo.com.tw/gdsale/gdsale...

                                          But here's something to try if you don't want to buy a machine, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/366413
                                          In fact I think you helped me solved my own puzzle...that when I froze the freshly whipped heavy creme, I got myself some Xue Hua Bing!

                                          Have fun!

                                          1. re: HLing

                                            Xue Hua Bing! fantastic, thats it exactly. If i owned a company i'd offer you a job but i don't so platitudes will have to do i'm afraid ;)

                                            I used to eat this every day for breakfast during the summer in kaohsiung (teeth aren't so good now) and the photos were spot on. Thanks for all the good work and links HLing, as well as the plug for the plastic jobbies Das.
                                            Now i just need to perfect the mixture, will go with the 'can never have too much milk and sugar' approach. If all goes well i may even open up a little stand out here in europe. If you're all over you can have one on the house.

                                            Thanks again,

                                            1. re: sean89

                                              Funny you should say that....I do need a job..but I guess I'll wait for that xue hua bing on the house in the future!

                                              Shaved ice for breakfast in the summer is almost worth it for the not-so-good teeth, but there's no reason you should suffer the condition that takes away much pleasure of eating. I had sensitive teeth from falling asleep keeping a sour plum in my mouth as a child.(xuan mei) For the longest time I couldn't bite into any apples, and definitley no strawberries without suffering the soreness of the teeth.....I think using the tooth paste Elgydium is what remedied it. If you are in Europe you should be able to get Elgydium toothpaste (French) much easier than here in the States.

                                              Keep experimenting and keep us posted!

                                              1. re: sean89

                                                wow, an old thread resurrected! and now there IS snow ice in LA indeed...

                                                As for Sean89, who is in Europe, perhaps the thread on snow ice cream could spark ideas... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/670108

                                              2. re: HLing

                                                Great stuff, HLing. But short of buying one of these machines, et al, do I have to fly to Taiwan to taste these wonders?

                                                1. re: Ogawak

                                                  you can but it at any asian market

                                                  1. re: Ogawak

                                                    Ogawak, did you ever try the shaved ice at Bin Bin Konjac? I'm curious to hear if you that's finer shaved ice to you.

                                                    1. re: HLing

                                                      Because of my work schedule, etc, I have not been able to get to Pasadena/Arcadia from Santa Monica this past month. But with your recommendation, I will make Bin Bin Kojac a priority. Hopefully this weekend

                                                      1. re: HLing

                                                        Report: Bin Bin Kojac. I got to try it today. thanks for the tip, HLing and others. I did enjoy it a bit more than SinBala next door. I tried the red bean which included konjac (really delicious) and mochi balls. But it is different than Hawaiian shave ice. Bin Bin doesn't make me quit longing for the Hawaiian kind, but whenever I am in the Arcadia, Bin Bin will certainly be a regular stop. And Waiola and Tropicana (favorite shave ice in Honolulu) are still more fine than Bin Bin. So still searching.

                                                2. Pinkberry has a shaved ice with rice cake and syrup.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: SeanT

                                                    Pinkberry's shaved ice is more like american shaved ice trying to be hawaiian shaved ice. Not a gigantic fan.

                                                  2. You should also try the Bakery inside the supermarket at Galleria Korean Plaza. They have fresh berries and dduk (sweet rice cake). Its my favorite but you have to find a place to sit yourself since the place is really carry out... but just take it upstairs to the food court and enjoy!

                                                    1. There was a place that we went yesterday called Pa Pa Walk. They have several different preset shaved ice dishes and I think that you can designate what you want also like at Shau May, But they have a signature mango shaved ice with mango, condensed milk and syrup. You can also have the option to get snowy ice which is more expensive but is alot fluffier and lighter. It totally changes the consistency of the shaved ice, makes it alot better. It's in a small right connected to the Hilton Hotel off of Del Mar and Valley in San Gabriel.

                                                      1. Older original thread...

                                                        Get shaved SNOW. Shaved ice is so 2008...

                                                        Class 302 (Fullerton & Nogales) in Rowland Heights has the best shaved snow around.

                                                        Pa Pa Walk's mango snow (in San Gabriel, in Hilton Plaza) is quite tasty too.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                          Couldn't have said it better myself ...


                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                            As the OP of this really old thread, I really like the shaved snow. I first came across it in Honolulu's Chinatown two years ago. Anxious to try some of these places for the snow.

                                                            The one I had in Honolulu was made with soy milk. Also a place in Kaneohe.