One of the huge reasons why I love Taiwan is shaved ice. Taking random toppings, putting them over ice shred so thin that it has no texture, and dousing them with sugar syrup and condensed milk has to be one of mankind's greatest inventions ever. If you've read my blog for a while, then you're probably aware of the my love affair with the place known as 'Meet Fresh.' For a bit of background, they're a chain that specializes in shaved ice and tea... that just so happened to have a location right behind my house. How incredible is that? Last year, I ate there so often, I paced out to about 5 bowls per week. Well, in any case, I was super excited to go as soon as I got off the plane this year. I walked home, threw my luggage down, and went off to grab dessert and lunch (in that order) only to find that... it had been torn down. WHAT WAS GOING ON?!?
Turns out, they downsized some locations, and that only the larger stores were still open. This would explain my lack of posts talking about shaved ice. Anyhoo, as I was walking around 信義路 (Xin Yi Road) the other day, I found one of the remaining locations and slid on in. Looking at the menu, I ordered their one of their Summer creations for 50 NT ($1.50), a 杏仁紅豆冰 (almond red bean shaved ice), which is that pile of black at the top. Wait, wait... this is just a pile of black jelly, where's the almond!?
Upon mixing you're greeted by white ice. Basically what the dish ends up being is... 仙草 (xian cao), which is really just a minty leaf that Chinese people make into a black jello, covered by sweetened red beans, tapioca pearls with sweet potato gelatin inside, all over thinly shaved almond flavored ice. Hope that explains it clearer. Obviously it was nice to have a good shaved ice for the first time in a long time (compared to anything in NYC at least), but this dessert was a real winner too. The almond flavor, which usually gets overshadowed by other elements, was strong enough to stand out on its own, and the 仙草 made for nice complementary texture against the ice. The red beans added just enough sweetness to remind you that it was dessert, and the tapioca bubbles... well, they're just fun to play with. For 50 NT, you get every pennies worth, and it's totally worth trying if you're in Taiwan.