Snow cream shops have taken Los Angeles by storm in the last couple of years, with places such as Blockheads, Pa Pa Walk and Snow Flower Ice throwing their hats into the ring. The latest shop devoted to the incarnation of the Taiwanese dessert, SnowPiffs, opened for business April 26 in Sherman Oaks.
Icier than ice cream, yet creamier than shaved ice, snow cream pools in small rivulets into a cup, creating a ribboning effect unique to this dessert. The strange yet appealing texture of snow cream is reminiscent of another Taiwanese import, Boba, in that it is exotic and addicting.
SnowPiffs features an original formula for the iced dessert, with no additives or preservatives. Owner Oakley Trinh says, "The formula is completely different from the Taiwanese. We make it from scratch, without using powder." The formula may be healthier, but the result is the same: a more refreshing version of frozen yogurt with a watery, rather than milky aftertaste. The flavors range from the somewhat exotic, like cantaloupe, to the decadent chocolate cake batter.
Unlike many other snow cream shops, SnowPiffs charges one price that includes unlimited toppings, so you can pile them on to your heart's delight. Like the cream itself, the toppings vary from prosaic (cookie crumble, Cap'n Crunch) to sublime (lychee or passion fruit poppers and azuki beans). There are also syrup choices, like white chocolate, with condensed milk being the classic option.
Proprietors and cousins Trinh and John Tran both grew up in Los Angeles and dreamed of opening a family business. With Tran's wife, Rumy, contributing cupcakes and cake pops under her Cakes by Rumy brand, the family has created a modern and diverse dessert shop. They were not just just looking to run a business but also to be a part of the community.
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Trinh and Tran opened SnowPiffs with the express purpose of being able to give back. In fact, the concept of Pay it Forward is built right into the name of the establishment: The "Pif" of SnowPiffs is an anagram for Pay it Forward.
"We built it right into the logo," said Trinh. "Last year we helped raise money for cancer, veterans and schools. Sherman Oaks is very supportive of us."