We love ice cream as much as the next guy, but right now we're turning to these six Asian-style shave ices—hunks of ice chiseled to snowy perfection—for cold comfort.
Some are drizzled with rich coconut sugar syrups and condensed milk; most are topped with all sorts of wacky stuff, like popcorn, ube (purple yam) and sweet kernels of creamed corn.
Now that summer (and its best friend, humidity) is officially here, our favorite spots are back cranking out these icy delights, reminding us of the refreshing desserts hawkers dish out street-side in Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Neil Syham of the new Lumpia Shack compares his frozen halo-halo to a bowl of cereal. Agreed. Shave ice: definitely the most important meal of the day.
So, here's where to pretend you're lazing away eating shave ice across Asia:
All you need to make halo-halo: palm seeds, fresh and jellified coconut, leche flan, popcorn, bananas and lotsa ube
Halo-halo at Lumpia Shack
T-minus one day until Neil Syham brings back his epic halo-halo to Smorgasburg and his new West Village spot. He hand-churns the ice and piles on the usual suspects to the Filipino dessert, such as thick, starchy ube, squishy palm seeds and homemade caramel-y leche flan—plus 10 more slightly less authentic toppings, like Pipcorn's kettlecorn, macerated strawberries and ube foam.
Kakigōri at ChikaLicious
Skip the blue-raspberry and go with traditional toppings at this East Village gem: The green tea shave ice is an army-green mound of powdery, just-sweet snow and crowned with condensed milk and adzuki beans. But, the best part is in the center: ultra-creamy vanilla soft serve. Oishii!
Ais kacang at Pasar Malam
The key to this Malaysian-style dessert? Rose syrup with evaporated milk, creamed corn and all-important kacang (or peanuts). Laut's Salim Mehta brings his childhood memories to the upcoming Williamsburg restaurant, Pasar Malam, opening on Monday. He stacks jackfruit and jelly of every stripe (grass, pandan, coconut) on the ice and drizzles it with house-made gula jawa (coconut sugar) syrup, based off a family recipe from one of Mehta's chefs.
Hawaiian-style shave ice at Eton Too
Hawaii is a long flight away—but legit Hawaiian-style shave ice is as close as Gowanus. Come for the island comfort food (fishy, satisfying saimin and Spam musubi); stay for the super-fine shave ice doused in fruity syrups. We're partial to making our own POG (passion fruit, orange and guava juice) over ice.
Coming soon: Patbingsu at Koryodang in Flatiron and Taiwanese shaved snow at Wooly's in the Lower Manhattan
Local favorites Koryodang and Wooly's are coming back to Manhattan, people. Koryodang, the uber-popular Korean bakery in Queens, plans to open a Flatiron location, which means their stellar patbingsu—soft shave ice topped with fruit, red beans, mochi balls and a sprinkle of toasted soy bean powder—is that much closer to your belly. And Eugene Hu of Wooly's, a Taiwanese-Hawaiian ice-churning fusion spot, has been off the grid, but word is that his pop-up location will materialize in the Lower East Side soon. Don't call it shave ice, though—Hu first infuses the ice with flavor and then shaves it off with a fancy new technique he won't yet reveal. What we do know: You'll be seeing "canned coffee," chai tea and his fantastic mango flavor on the menu.