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Dec 17, 2009 06:58 AM

Shaved ice in the District?

OK, some might think I'm insane for craving shaved ice in the middle of this cold weather, but hey, I grew up in Wisconsin and ate frozen custard all winter long!
So, I've recently become obsessed with shaved ice (served with red bean paste, mochi, random syrups, condensed milk, etc.) after a couple trips to New York. I had an excellent rendition in Flushing, and another in Koreatown.

I understand Bob's Noodle 66 has a good version, but are there any options to satisfy my craving in the District?

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  1. That's so funny... I thought I was the only who liked her shaved ice with condensed milk as well... lol

    I will wait to see what places are mentioned.

    5 Replies
    1. re: helenahimm

      So sad, no responses. I have found out that Malaysia Kopitiam and Penang both have a shaved ice dessert, but it's of the various beans and corn variety. I'd prefer more of a Korean bingsoo version with red bean and fruit and mochi.
      I think I'm going to try to make it out to the burbs, either Shilla in Rockville, or Shilla, Le Matin de Paris, or Dolce Cafe in Annandale. Most likely the Rockville one since it's metro-accessible'ish (with bus).

      1. re: hamster

        DC doesn't have much in the way of Korean food. I didn't point you to Shilla's because you asked for The District. Frankly I don't know good from bad versions of this, but I've seen people eating it at Shilla's during the summer. I don't know if it's seasonal with them. They serve a huge bowl, mostly there were two or three people working on one portion. When I saw how big it was (and they only have one size) I didn't try one myself.

        1. re: hamster

          If you are willing to leave DC, the Ten Ren at College Park had shaved ice the last time I was there.

          1. re: hamster

            I finally made it to Shilla for the shaved ice and it was very good and perfect for this weather. I love how it is such a light dessert, with fun texture contrasts. The pieces of mochi inside were the best.

            It was such a scene on Sunday afternoon with tons of groups sharing desserts! I also sampled a few baked goods, couldn't resist since I was there. I had this very unusual tapioca/red bean cake thing which was satisfyingly chewy, and I'm working on some chocolate almond almost-biscotti cookies.

            Now I have to compare to Yogiberry's in Cleveland Park. This weather certainly calls for lots of shaved ice desserts.

            1. re: hamster

              On the corner of S. George Mason and Columbia Pike , in the Food Star parking lot is a shave ice vendor with homemade tropical syrups. You can choose three syrups plus they will top it with hot tamarind sauce if you ask. Two secrets to know about: you can ask for a small if you don't want so much and, in addition to the flavors listed, they also have a leche syrup. I like the strawberry, leche, and mango - but they are all good.

              If you want a whole meal, then there is also a taco truck there with very good beef tacos.

        2. I was in Rockville the other day so I went to Bob's Noodle 66 and sampled their shaved ice. I had red bean, lychee, and taro (you can choose 3 flavorings for $4.50); and it also ended up being served with condensed milk and honey syrup I think. It was a HUGE serving, certainly enough for 2 or 3. And that's not even their supposedly gigantic shaved ice dessert "The Volcano" which I read about on yelp! It was pretty tasty, though I would have liked more condensed milk, and the ice shavings left something to be desired. I couldn't put my finger on it though. It certainly fulfilled my craving.
          While I was there, I also had the Sacha beef with noodles. YUM. Delicious thick noodles (like udon size) fried in a tasty sauce with beef and some yu tsai. The texture of the noodles was tremendous.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hamster

            The volcano at Bob's is the ultimate shaved ice dessert.

          2. OK, so apparently they serve shaved ice at YogiBerry in Cleveland Park. I saw it on the menu and it's pricey ($8 IIRC). I didn't have a chance to try it yet. Next time I'm in the neighborhood, it's #1 on my list. Has anyone else tried it?

            2 Replies
            1. re: hamster

              I don't know if this fits the bill, or if he's out yet, but Clayboy usually comes around Bethesda Row by Barnes and Noble a lot and has shaved ice.

              1. re: hamster

                Finally made it to YogiBerry for their shaved ice. It's $8.25 including tax and a HUGE serving of course. They put shaved ice in the bottom with your choice of flavored syrup (I had passion fruit; they also offered mango and other tropical flavors), whatever fro yo you want (I had original), mochi, and any three yogurt toppings.

                So, I must say, YogiBerry's toppings options may be the best I've seen in DC. They had a lot to choose from (kind of like Yogato) but it was all really neat and clean (unlike Yogato). More options than either Sweetgreen or Tangysweet, for sure. Multiple candy options I've never seen anywhere like mini gummy bears, nonpareils, skittles...They even had multiple lychee fruit options (maybe they were actually rambutans? No idea).

                So the yogurt and toppings were good, but the shaved ice was disappointing. It was not ground finely like in Korean bingsoo but rather like large ice pebbles that stayed whole and yet also were bathed in melted water at the bottom of the cup. Not good. Not recommended.

                I will have to look into some of these Latin American options, thanks chowhounds!

                3333 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

              2. On H Street (Atlas) there is a "Philly Shaved Ice" or something. It looks pretty neighborhoodie..

                4 Replies
                1. re: Russel Shank

                  It's Philadelphia Water Ice Factory. I can't vouch for the water ice, but their cheesesteaks are pretty awesome. I have to admit the distinction between "water ice" and "snowcone" and "snowball" are kinda lost on me.


                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Trust me, there is a huge difference. A "snowball" is made w/ a special machine that cuts the ice into the most delicate texture--like snow.......It is super soft and fluffy. It is not little nuggets of ice that give you brain freeze. I wish we had some in the area. I know they are now making quite a splash in Texas as well. I haven't tried the snowballs in Baltimore. Are they as good as the ones in New Orleans? Here is info from Wikipedia:

                    "Snowball is soft shaved ice mixed with flavored syrup contained in a styrofoam cup or Chinese takeout container. The quality of the ice is important. It should be like soft fresh snow. If it is the right consistency it will mix with the flavoring and be like an icy drink rather than a crunchy sweet.

                    Baltimore and New Orleans are both well known for their snowballs.

                    Baltimore traces the birth of the snowball to the end of the 19th century, when commercially frozen ice became widely available. Ice wagons would shave a little ice off a block for a customer. The original flavor was egg custard, because it was so simple to make.[1]

                    In 1934, inventor Ernest Hansen designed an "ice block shaver" in New Orleans, Louisiana.[2]He was inspired to create a more refined and hygienic version of the popular Italian ice sold from push-carts in the city. His wife Mary created many flavors of fresh syrups to flavor his finely shaved artificial "snow".

                    Syrups used for Hawaiian shaved iceIn Hawaii, "shave ice" is similar to snowballs, and is sold in cone-shaped paper cups. "Rainbow," a popular flavor, consists of three different colors of syrup chosen usually for their color rather than their taste compatibility. Commonly, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or sweetened azuki beans is first added to the bottom of the cup, and is capped with condensed milk.[3]

                    The dessert ice kachang served in Malaysia and Singapore is another form of shaved ice. Ice kachang originally was served with red beans but now includes various fruits and other sweet toppings.

                    In Japan they are known as Kakigori."

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      'Real' Philadelphia Water Ice is a very inexpensive summer treat sold in tiny paper cups for fifty cents. It is mostly ice with a bit of flavor. Water ice is actually a good name for it. In South Philly, you might find it sold out of a makeshift space or a street cart summertime only. There are some established places that will also serve ice cream. PWI is not sweet or deeply colored like Italian Ices we see in the grocery stores.