Din Tai Fung, Chippendale

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.

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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.