Taiwanese Shaved Ice – Bao Bing
Taiwanese shaved ice is known to locals as Bao Bing or Tsua Bing and is a staple of Taiwanese desserts. What makes Taiwanese shaved ice so great is the abundant local fresh fruits available throughout Taiwan. This is especially true or mangos and bananas. As a result, it is not unexpected that Mango shaved ice is probably one of the most popular flavors. Taiwanese shaved ice is different than traditional American shaved ice in that it is layered in sheets giving it a velvety texture. On our trip to Taiwan we had to try out the two places most visited: Ice Monster and Smoothie House.
Ice monster is probably one of the more prominent and well recognized names when it come to Taiwanese shaved ice. It started in the 1990s and now has several branches throughout the world including in Tokyo which we had the opportunity to visit. This review is based on the location in Da’an. It may sound crazy but we went twice because we felt like we could not try all the flavors in one sitting. The first flavors that we tried were the Mango and the Coffee flavor. One thing I love about most cuisine in Asian countries is the blend between sweet and savory. Many of the shaved ice will come with red bean which I happen to really like.
The mango shaved ice is so refreshing and on a hot day I can imagine would be a great respite from the heat. It comes with fresh chunks of mango on the side. I’ve had mango in many places of the world but I was amazed how sweet the mango was from Taiwan. I really liked it. On our second visit we tried the strawberry shaved ice. The the strawberry was really bright and fruitful. It is great because it also comes with a scoop of strawberry ice cream as well as fresh strawberries and a serving of panna cotta. I felt like the velvety texture of the panna cotta blended really nicely with the shaved ice.
On our second trip to Ice Monster I was not really feeling something cold. Therefore I opted to get the Black Sesame Mochi balls. These are really chewy in texture which is a result of the glutinous rice flour that is used to make them. The crunch on top was a nice contrast to the texture of the Mochi. However, I would recommend sharing this as they can get slightly sickening after one to many.
Smoothie House very much competes with Ice Monster and has several location throughout Taipei. The location we visited was in Da’an which has outdoor seating. I personally felt that the texture of the shaved Ice and Ice Monster was more velvety than at Smoothie House. It is also possible while they include panna cotta with their mango version. However the mango was just as sweet and fantastic.
If you are in Taiwan you must try shaved ice and I highly recommend that you try the mango flavor and strawberry flavor. Don’t forget to try the mochi also. If any of you have been to Ice Monster or Smoothie House, which one do you prefer.