Header images courtesy of @pearlllll_yi (Instagram) and Shari Shari Kakigori House (Facebook)
Is anyone else melting in this 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 the opposite of what makes us hot: ice!
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 and a delicious and well-deserved cooling down.
Japanese shaved ice is the perfect summer treat, but considering Hong Kong only ever gets slightly chilly, we’re perfectly content to have it for winter, too. Shari Shari Kakigori 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 on the current menu include Avocado Milk ($90), which comes with a layer of crushed cookies hidden inside, and the Mango Lassi ($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 totally 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, G/F, 119 Tung Choi Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 5791 2141
Baekmidang has one main item on their menu: the signature milk ice cream. Super-rich in flavour and smooth in texture, the team has so much confidence in it that Baekmidang’s other ice cream “flavours” are really just toppings that use the signature milk ice cream as a base!
For their flagship store in K11 MUSEA, this Korean dessert concept carries an exclusive Caramel Coffee Shaved Ice ($128) that showcases another remarkable use of their incredible soft serve. Korean bingsu forms the base of the bowl, with a generous portion of Baekmidang’s signature ice cream sitting on top; then, pick up the coffee blend that comes in a separate glass bottle and pour as much as you like onto the ice cream and shaved ice to round out your flavours! For this summer, they also launched the Fresh Japanese Peach Milk Shaved Ice ($168) that uses one whole peach filled with fresh raspberry jam and sits on top of a bed of milk shaved ice for different textures. This Instagrammable dessert is perfect for summer and only available till 31 August 2020.
Baekmidang, Shop B225A, B2/F, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 6655 1901
How could we talk about shaved ice without mentioning our favourite shaved ice flavour—matcha! Uji-en does a perfect rendition of Uji Matcha Shaved Ice ($78) that uses and highlights their brand’s proprietary rich matcha powder. Fluffy layers of shaved ice are served in a bowl, followed by heaps of matcha powder sprinkled on top. On the side, small pots of matcha honey, red bean paste, and shiro dango (a form of mochi) complete the dessert experience. Never neglect the toppings, especially the matcha honey, since it is the key ingredient that pulls the kakigōri together!
Uji-en, Shop 4201–4202K, 4/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2110 3052
2DP is a minimalistic vegan café in Tsim Sha Tsui with a focus on desserts, and here, we will spotlight their Watermelon Shaved Ice ($108). This impressive cooldown treat is served in an actual watermelon shell with the centre hollowed out, which is then filled with milk-flavoured shaved ice (though you can also request soy milk-flavoured ice if you’re lactose-intolerant and 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, G/F, 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, 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 and greasy 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; 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!
T-Fresh, G/F, 19A Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2119 2600
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, 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?