Header images courtesy of @pearlllll_yi (via Instagram) and Shari Shari Kakigori House (via Facebook)
Originally published by Ching Yuen. Last updated by Jen Paolini.
Is anyone else melting in this hot summer sun? If you are diligently keeping your mask on like we are, there really is nothing to enjoy about this humidity and heat. What better way to cool down than with a brain freeze-inducing iced dessert? Known by many names across Asia—kakigōri, bingsu, baobing, and namkhaeng sai, to name a few—shaved ice desserts are a summer staple and a total lifesaver in Hong Kong. Here are some of the best spots in Hong Kong for shaved ice desserts so you can treat yourself to a delicious and well-deserved cooldown.
Japanese shaved ice—also known as kakigōri—is the perfect summer treat. Shari Shari Kakigōri House does some of the best Japanese shaved ice desserts in town, with seasonal flavours like lemon and tiramisu on rotation, as well as generous portions to boot. Our favourites include the avocado milk kakigōri ($90), which comes with a layer of crushed cookies hidden inside, and the mango lassi kakigōri ($90), slathered in mango sauce and served with an extra pot of plain yoghurt on the side.
At Shari Shari Kakigori House, you are only limited by your own imagination: Customise your kakigōri with different add-on toppings like the traditional adzuki red beans and shiratama mochi, as well as more outlandish selections like Oreo chunks and panna cotta so you experience different textures as you work your way down!
Korean-style shaved ice is more like powdered ice flakes, and they are so soft and delicate that you don’t even need to chew—the spoonful of bingsu will simply melt in your mouth!
Dig into a huge selection of Korean shaved ice desserts at Nun Desserts Café, which offers more traditional flavours like the crispy caramel ice ($62), covered in soybean powder with caramel sauce drizzled on top and served with a scoop of caramel ice cream and crispy cornflakes on the side for additional texture. If you are looking for something adventurous, don’t miss the D24 durian ice ($72), where a scoop of durian ice cream sitting on top of fresh durian meat, which in turn sits on top of a mound of durian-flavoured ice flakes.
Nun Desserts Café, 119 Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 5791 2141
2DP is a minimalistic vegan café in Tsim Sha Tsui with a focus on desserts, but it is their watermelon shaved ice ($108) that we want to spotlight. An impressive cooldown treat that served in an actual watermelon shell with the centre hollowed out, the “bowl” is then filled with milk-flavoured shaved ice (though you can also request soy milk-flavoured ice if you want to skip out on dairy). Perfect little scoops of watermelon meat will then be piled onto the shaved ice mountain, making it the ultimate thirst-quenching dessert for summer!
2DP, The Lamma Tower, 12–12A Hau Fook Street, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 3705 9590
Taiwanese shaved ice—also known as tsuabing—is yet another form of shaved ice dessert, and this refreshing iteration is quite similar to the snow cones you will find at carnivals. What sets them apart are the toppings; at Meet Fresh (鮮芋仙), the most popular option is the traditional red bean shaved ice ($52), covered in condensed milk and piles of red bean paste. We would also recommend the pudding mochi shaved ice ($52), made of egg pudding, taro balls, and mochi, which combines the best of what Asian sweets have to offer!
Korean shaved ice and Korean BBQ actually go hand in hand, and nowhere is that heavenly combination more evident than at Shin Mapo BBQ, which offers traditional bingsu with every set dinner for the perfect cooling finish to a hearty meal. Red bean & soybean powder shaved ice ($88) is a common flavour combination that works wonders with the powdered base, but you can also upgrade to a toasted marshmallow bingsu ($100), where they line the icy mountain with fluffy and gooey marshmallows and roast them with a flame torch!
Another Taiwanese shaved ice restaurant that’s worth checking out is T-Fresh (嚐仙); their signature jumbo shaved ice with milk ($55) is truly a sight to behold. With build-your-own options of choosing any five toppings made from traditional Taiwanese ingredients—including taro balls, mashed sweet potato, mashed taro, egg pudding, brown sugar jelly, grass jelly, red bean, tapioca balls, Chinese pearl barley, red kidney bean, and peanuts—you can customise your tsuabing to your heart’s desire. Here’s a tip: Bring a friend and order two bowls of shaved ice so you can share all the toppings between yourselves!
Flying in all the way from Bangkok, you know you can expect excellent milk tea-flavoured desserts from ChaTraMue if they claim to be the best in Thailand. ChaTraMue not only whips up a mean traditional cha yen (ชาเย็น; Thai iced tea), but they also offer a Thai milk tea shaved ice ($88) dessert that is served with a condensed milk sauce, grass jelly, and little biscuit puffs. Known in Thailand as namkhaeng sai, this mountain of airy shaved ice comes with a thick cream topping that gently rolls down the milk tea slope. Isn’t that just one of the most appetising things you can think of on a hot summer’s day?
A semi-hidden gem on Cheung Chau, Cheung Chau Bing Sutt (長洲冰室) is a must-visit for day-trippers looking to cool off after a jaunt across the sleepy island. Specialising in Hong Kong-style desserts that cover the gamut of tong sui (糖水) to tofu pudding (豆腐花; dau6 fu6 faa1), one can also find sago pudding and shaved ice on the menu. Indulge in unique treats like the Baileys shaved ice with red beans & taro balls ($78), the perennially popular mango shaved ice with taro balls ($68), or the coconut shaved ice with red beans & taro balls ($60).
Cheung Chau Bing Sutt (長洲冰室), 19C Pak She Praya Road, Cheung Chau | (+852) 2981 2982