The hunt for shaved ice
To survive the recent heat wave Lia, 16, went on the hunt for the best shaved ice in Southern California.
During the recent heat wave, I embarked upon a mission to find the best shaved ice in Los Angeles and found three places each with its own spin on shaved ice.
My first stop was Ice Kiss, a small café in Koreatown serving shaved ice and ice cream. Their specialty is bingsu, shaved ice with Asian red beans and a scoop of ice cream, decorated with fruit cocktail, banana slices, Fruity Pebbles cereal, mochi balls (a sticky Asian rice cake) and chocolate syrup. This might seem heavy, but it’s actually very light because they give you small amounts of each ingredient. Two people can share one, but if you want more, you can get a double order. The shaved ice comes in a variety of flavors, including green tea, chocolate, coffee and strawberry. The only problem is that they don’t shave the ice completely, so sometimes you get big chunks of ice floating around in the syrup. The menu also includes ice cream and Pinkberry-style yogurts. Unfortunately, it is expensive: One shaved ice is $6.99 and a double order is $11.99.
The atmosphere at Ice Kiss, however, can be uncomfortable. There are two inside tables and the other 10 tables are located on an outside patio. It does not have air conditioning and people are allowed to smoke, so depending on what time of day you go and who you’re sitting next to, Ice Kiss might not be the most relaxing place to visit.
My second stop was the Kang Kang Food Court, a Taiwanese cafeteria-style restaurant in Alhambra. It’s usually crowded with people trying to get a quick meal and can get noisy during peak hours, but it’s air-conditioned and has many places to sit. Near the front entrance, they have an ice slush counter. There you choose three or four different toppings (except they’re not really toppings because they go on the bottom). These toppings include pineapple, lychee (a grape-sized Chinese fruit), Chinese grass jelly (which tastes like plain gelatin), almond jelly, mango pudding, green sweet bean, red bean, taro (a purple root with the consistency of a potato), mochi and tapioca balls. Then the server shaves six inches of ice on top of the items and covers the slush with condensed milk. One slush is enough for two, if not three, people and is reasonably priced, costing $3.50 if you get three toppings, $3.70 if you get four toppings, and an extra 25 cents for condensed milk. Sometimes it can be hard to pick the right toppings, though. For example, their red bean looks good in the display, but it’s tasteless and dry, and the mango pudding doesn’t go well with almond jelly. Otherwise, the Taiwanese ice slush is very refreshing.
My last stop was Mikawaya in downtown’s Little Tokyo, which sells mochi and looks like an old-fashioned ice cream shop. They offer shaved ice with different choices of syrups (strawberry, lime, raspberry, green tea, etc.) for $2.75 each, and each shaved ice is enough for two people. A scoop of ice cream with your shaved ice costs an extra dollar. Adding red bean with sweetened condensed milk brings the price up to $4.75. The ice is shaved perfectly (no big chunks) and is delicious.
Out of the three shaved ice places, I liked the Kang Kang Food Court best. It gives you the most generous portions with the most reasonable prices and I love the variety of toppings. But if the summer continues to be this hot, you can’t go wrong with any kind of shaved ice.
3407 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Hours: Every day 11 a.m. to midnight
Kang Kang Food Court
27 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
Hours: Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
333 S. Alameda St. (inside Little Tokyo Square)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.