Here’s something new, weird, and delicious to try if you find yourself in New York — or Taiwan — one summer weekend.
During a trip to Taiwan in 2009, Carson Yiu was inspired by the shaved ice concoctions served at night markets. Like the Indonesian dish called “es campur,” Taiwanese shaved ice is a fantabulous mix of very finely shaved ice — almost snow — topped with a slew of colorful treats like fresh kiwi, condensed milk, mochi, ice-cream, red beans — and almost anything else you can imagine.
Yiu, 27, who grew up eating at Flushing’s Chinese restaurants in the New York City borough of Queens, could imagine a lot.
So starting in July 2010, he began selling his own version of the treat, first at street fairs and now out of the side door of a Banh Mi sandwich shop on the Lower East Side. Yiu tops a matterhorn of shaved ice with toppings like caramel corn, coconut jelly, and frosted flakes, and finishes it with a generous drizzle of condensed milk and a dollop of either mango sorbet or green tea ice cream. (All for $6.)
He makes his own jellies and uses an ice-shaving machine he imported from Taiwan. He won’t’ say how much the machine costs or where exactly you could buy one if you wanted to. “I used to tell people everything,” he said, serving a bowl to an Israeli tourist who paused to check out his small space on Orchard street. “But now my friends are thinking about becoming competitors. So let’s just say I acquired the machine from Taiwan.”
The Shaved Ice Shop (on Facebook at facebook.com/theshavediceshop) is currently selling bowls at 85 Orchard Street near Broome Street in NYC’s Lower East Side.