It may be fall, but in October the Santa Ana winds can suddenly send temperatures soaring. When that happens -- or even when it doesn't -- shaved snow can be the perfect solution. Originating in Taiwan, shaved snow takes the shaved-ice concept to the logical next step, by freezing milk or flavoring or both into the block. This is then shaved to produce a uniquely textured dessert, usually drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and a few or many toppings -- mango, strawberry, mochi, chocolate, red bean, even jackfruit. Here are our favorite spots around the San Gabriel Valley for this Taiwanese treat.
Sixteen flavors, five syrups and 34 toppings are available at Alhambra's Salju Dessert. Salju is the Indonesian word for snow. If you're thinking Indonesian ownership could lead to unique and fascinating variations on shaved snow, you'd be right. Like durian-flavored snow. Yes, durian, the notoriously stinky fruit popular in Southeast Asia. In another distinctly Indonesian take, jackfruit is available as a topping choice. In addition to the durian, Salju is the only place in the SGV we're aware of that has black sesame flavor. Tip: If ordering durian or black sesame, go with the counter person's suggested toppings and note that durian flavor costs $1 more. 35 W. Valley Blvd., Ste. B, Alhambra; 626-289-3578.
3. Pa Pa Walk
Tucked behind an elevator/staircase in San Gabriel's Hilton Plaza, Pa Pa Walk is a busy Taiwanese snack house featuring a brightly colored and humorous decor. At Pa Pa Walk, it's known as "snowy" and appears on the shaved-ice portion of the menu. Six snowy options are available (you do not select your toppings): green tea, boba milk, red bean, cappuccino, brown sugar and mango. The standout here is the mango. Glistening cubes of ripe mango sit atop the mango-flavored snowy to create a mango lover's bliss. A small serving is enough to fill two or three diners -- and the large is enormous, enough for a whole party. 227 W. Valley Blvd., #148B, San Gabriel; 626-281-3889.
2. Fluff Ice
With a cute lil' cloud mascot and a truck, Fluff Ice is likely the best known to those not familiar with the SGV. Fluff Ice features 10 flavors, seven of them nondairy, with 23 toppings and either condensed milk or chocolate syrup. It also provides the option of four sizes: mini, small, regular and large and a menu board with suggested combos. Here, the green tea with red bean is a good choice. The original location in Monterey Park's Atlantic Times Square has been joined by one in Monrovia. 500 N. Atlantic Blvd., Ste. 153, Monterey Park; 626-872-2123.
1. Class 302
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The small, Taiwanese classroom–themed spot in Rowland Heights was one of the first, if not the first, to serve shaved snow in the SGV. Class 302 features eight set combos, including strawberry, green tea-red bean or mango-mochi, or you can order "old-style" (condensed milk flavor) with your choice of toppings. The standout here, again, is the mango (alone, with strawberry or with mochi). Class 302 has made our "Best of" lists and is still a standout because of its silky ribbons of snow. The popularity of the place can lead to long waits -- but there's a reason people rarely give up and leave the line. 1015 S. Nogales St.,
Rowland Heights; 626-965-5809.
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