Your new summer snack: snow ice
When ice cream feels too heavy and frozen lemonade doesn't pack enough of a punch, head to Cloud 9 for xue hua bing--cool, sweet, lightly creamy Taiwanese snow ice.
Unlike frozen yogurt--which is usually just a substitute for ice cream--snow ice occupies its own territory. A blend of fresh fruit, cream, milk, water and sugar is frozen into large cylinders that, when shaved on a special machine, transform into a pile of paper-thin ribbons.
Strawberry, mango and vanilla ices are made in-house. Pick an ice flavor ($4), a syrup--chocolate or fresh strawberry, blueberry or mango purée--and a fruit or candy topping ($.69 each), and tuck into the mound.
At its coldest, the snow ice is dense and almost chewy; as it melts in the bowl, it's reminiscent of a silky sherbet.
Vanilla-flavored ice, chocolate syrup, crushed peanuts and crumbled Heath bars makes for a solid sundae, but it's the fruit flavors that will keep us coming back. Mango ice with mango purée and pieces of ripe mango is the cool apotheosis of the fruit. Strawberry ice with blueberry purée, kiwi and banana makes an ideal fruit salad.
Coming soon: new toppings--like condensed milk and red beans--inspired by the treat's Taiwanese origins.
Cloud 9, 604 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-857-1255 or cloud9chicago.com
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