A gold flake topped shave ice reportedly debuted at a Tokyo hotel this summer for $ 25, while another nearby hotel just started serving the summery snack with a scoop of caviar — for $ 50.
Thankfully, New York City spots offer plenty of creative takes on the treat, for much less.
Topped with everything from flan to puffed rice, these frozen sweets are cooler than cool.
(People’s Pops, multiple locations; peoplespops.com)
People’s Pops makes their popular shave ice ($ 2.50) the really old-fashioned way: with 80-pound blocks of clear carving ice scraped by hand to order. The ice is then topped with homemade syrups made from locally grown fruits. Right now, the shop is serving up lemon or plum orange blossom, but the flavors change frequently.
The brand’s locations — including spots at Chelsea Market, the East Village, the High Line and Park Slope, as well as stands at Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg — sell more than 1,800 pounds of shave ice each Saturday, according to co-owner Joel Horowitz.
(Acme, 9 Great Jones St.; acmenyc.com)
At this farm-to-table restaurant in Nolita, Danish chef Mads Refslund whips up this complex take on a classic granita — a semi-frozen treat made from sugar, water and flavoring. He uses frozen beet juice, and also cooks raw beets in blueberry juice, and then dehydrates them to make “beet raisins.” The Beet Granita ($ 12) mixture is studded with blueberries, beet raisins and chunks of crunchy rye bread crumble, and sits atop a yogurt foam. It’s drizzled with a blueberry syrup for a dessert that’s creamy, crunchy, sweet, savory and refreshing.
(Pig & Khao, 68 Clinton St.; pigandkhao.com)
At Leah Cohen’s Lower East Side Filipino and Southeast Asian fusion restaurant, she offers her take on the traditional Filipino dessert halo-halo. It translates to mix-mix, because all the ingredients are meant to be mixed in a bowl after it’s served.
“It usually has about 10 ingredients in it, but I just kept in the ones I liked,” Cohen says, choosing to top her shave ice ($ 8) with crisped rice, caramelized plantains, chunks of flan, shredded young coconut, a scoop of purple yam ice cream, and a mix of condensed and evaporated milk.
“It’s like a bowl of cereal on crack,” says the former “Top Chef” contestant.
(Talde, 369 Seventh Ave., Park Slope; taldebrooklyn.com)
Not to be outdone, Dale Talde, another former “Top Chef” contestant, serves an Americanized version of halo-halo ($ 12) at his eponymous Park Slope Asian fusion restaurant.
His combines shave ice with sweetened condensed milk, candied young coconut, lemongrass-kaffir-lime tapioca pearls, green tea syrup, Cap’n Crunch and berries.
“It’s kind of like a poor man’s sundae,” Talde says.
(Bubby’s, 71 Gansevoort St.; bubbys.com)
Those heading to the High Line’s Gansevoort St. entrance in the West Village can pop by Bubby’s sidewalk Snowball Cart, which debuted this summer. The cart makes Hawaiian-style shave ice — which has a texture similar to real snow — created with a manual ice machine from Japan. Owner Ron Silver says his staff originally started making homemade syrups with no artificial colors or flavorings for the soda fountain, then realized they’d also be delicious on snowballs. The snowballs cost $ 5 for up to two flavors like cherry, lime and coconut. Each additional flavor is $ 1.
(Rasa, 25 W. Eighth St.; rasanyc.com)
This traditional ice dish — a summer speciality — isn’t on Rasa’s printed menu. But co-owner Camie Lai says that when customers from Malaysia come into the restaurant and see the ice shaver, they know to ask for Ais Kacang ($ 8), a traditional Malaysian shave ice dish, for dessert. Lai makes all the components in house, including a palm sugar syrup, jelly made from pandan leaves and rose water, a red bean paste and salty creamed corn. Gelatinous palm seeds and crispy salted roast peanuts are added, as well as condensed milk, giving the dish a variety of flavors and textures.
“It’s salty, sweet and crunchy,” Lai says. “Everything you want in dessert.”