Since returning from Japan, I’ve been craving the same creamy shaved ice we’d enjoyed in Yokohama. I’m rather weary of shaved ice items on menus in Australia because they invariably seem to be crushed ice, rather than shaved ice. And crushed ice is crunchy not creamy.
I was at Din Tai Fung recently (we all know Din Tai Fung specialises in dumplings) and dessert seemed like a nice way to round off the meal. They have typical Chinese desserts like mango pudding and black sesame ice cream, but the mango shaved ice caught my attention. I wasn’t convinced it was shaved, rather than crushed, ice despite the description, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt — Din Tai Fung is a somewhat pricey restaurant so it’s not impossible.
What greeted me was an impressively huge serving — the diameter of the bowl in the photo is about 10 cm. The bowl is filled with mango syrup, sliced mango, with a central tower of shaved ice drizzled in more mango syrup and liquid condensed milk, topped with a scoop of mango gelato. It’s about twice as tall as it is wide.
The mango gelato was delicious as expected (mango is one of those failsafe gelato flavours) and the sliced mango tasted fresh (although I’ve never had canned mango, so I’m not sure if there’s a difference). But the shaved ice itself? That was major disappointment — not only was it crushed ice, it was pre-crushed and then placed back in the freezer, so the entire tower became a solid block of ice. It was impossible to eat, and hacking at it with a spoon wasn’t much help. Having spent a good twenty minutes trying to eat this, I eventually gave up. It was only possible to enjoy the gelato and the mango slices without making a mess.
Din Tai Fung is located at Central Park, Level 2, R201, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008.