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Jun 25, 2009 06:04 AM

review: shave ice at cafe zaiya

excitedly hit up the revamped dessert/cafe section at the east 41st location of cafe zaiya (they lost the beard papa) for their shave ice (they also have a lot of shakes, frappes and other stuff).

the large was served in a tall plastic drink thing, maybe 20 oz? very few ingredients, just shave ice, condensed milk and a thick green tea "syrup" and topped with some adzuki and a couple mochi (but not much). it was prepared in layers since the cup was so tall and came out like a parfait with layers of the 3 main ingredients. the ice was kinda rough, nowhere near as smooth and fine as koryodang's bing-suu ice and the green tea syrup was good, kinda sweet (got ridiculously too rich at the bottom) but enough actual tea taste. the syrup wasn't clear but more like a thick grainy condiment; sounds weird but honestly, looked kinda weird too. taste was good. and of course the condensed milk layered within helped.

I really hoped this was something I'd get constantly all summer; the large is $4.29 and you get a lot but . . . I dunno, just seemed kinda rough and not the perfection I'm looking for. definitely worth a try of course! I'm just trying to stay on top of all the fun asian icey stuff out there, just saw that Baoguette has both pandan AND ovaltine softserve; yum!

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  1. Sounds intriguing...Thanks for the post. I'm a sucker for condensed milk. Do you think you'd go back and order this again?

    5 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      eh, you know, I'd just stick with their soft-serves I think (they are good) and get my bing-suu fix at Koryodang next time; the ice was just too rough for me.

      1. re: bigjeff

        Thanks Jeff. Any flavor in particular that you like best?

        1. re: LeahBaila

          the green tea is good cuz they have all the fruits, the syrup, but then a scoop of green tea ice cream on top. they have a coffee flavor but the ice cream isn't coffee, it's just vanilla. they also have a milk flavor which might be kinda weird, I just stick with green tea. still meaning to try Cafe Muse's $12 bing-suu down the block tho.

          1. re: bigjeff

            Hmmm...The milk flavor actually sounds pretty good. I'm gonna have to check it out! Thanks a lot, Jeff.


            1. re: bigjeff

              Do let us know how Cafe Muse's bing-su compares! I was actually disappointed with Koryodang's version, looking for that perfect bingsu every summer...

      2. Can you compare this to the Chendol and ABC at Nyonya (which are awesome, btw!).

        1 Reply
        1. re: drmoze

          I've had them both at Jaya, Singapore Cafe, New Malaysia and I think I had the cendol at Nyonya but honestly, I can't really remember them since none of them were super amazing or else I'd really be able to recommend one. They are pretty different for sure; I think in the end I like the bing-suu variety just because of the ice cream; I remember Jaya's desserts were really bad, New Malaysia's was served in a parfait glass instead of a metal dish/bowl; Singapore might be the best of them (the cendol was better than the ABC) but then again, I really doubt it (I have this weird prejudice against that place). Haven't tried it at Skyway, will have to revisit at Nyonya. Oh, and the one place where they really should have iced desserts is Laut cuz I bet they would do it really good! But they don't, alas.

          doesn't really answer your question does it??! well, they are kinda different I guess but to compare like that . . . . the Zaiya shave is actually pretty good in terms of quality of ingredients (aside from ice texture), careful and studied preparation (it took about 5 minutes for all the layering, drizzling and shaving) and value. I can imagine blending it all together with some sorta utensil (well, they do have actual frappes I think) and drinking it sorta like a 7-11 slushy and the large is pretty huge; the small comes in a plastic ice-cream bowl-type thing for $3.49 or something like that.