When it gets hot in the Bay Area with warmth reminiscent of my Hawaiian childhood, my first thought goes to shaved ice (not ice cream).

If you’ve been to Hawaii, you know shaved ice is that simple, colorful treat of shaved ice with syrup for flavor. It’s grown over the years to include things like ice cream and mochi balls.

In the Bay Area, it’s not easy to find Hawaiian-style shaved ice. But there’s a boom lately of what’s known as “shaved snow” that’s extremely popular in Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. Last week, my friend Vera had a hankering for shaved snow so we went to check out the new Ice Monster in Walnut Creek.

Ice Monster is actually originally from the Philippines, and the Walnut Creek location in the Nob Hill strip mall is its first U.S. location, serving up ice creations and flavored tea drinks. They only have one size for their shaved snow, a huge bowl that’s easily shared. (There was a kid’s size but we were afraid to order that.) There are eight flavored ice starting at $7.50 a bowl, which includes the choice of one topping and one syrup.

Shaved snow is finer in texture than Hawaiian shaved ice. It’s so fine that when taken as a whole, it almost has a creamy texture that reminds you of ice cream. But since this is ice, this is probably easier for those who are lactose-intolerant.

Since there were three of us, we ventured into two bowls, starting with a green tea with bubbies (those are the pearls with liquid inside that pops in your mouth) and mochi balls, and then a second bowl of taro flavored ice with red azuki beans and grass jelly. Very Asian choices. We added sweetened condensed milk on each one.

I liked the green tea flavor, but the taro flavor didn’t remind me of taro. It was just sweet, maybe too sweet. Ice Monster also sells Dreyer’s ice cream and flavored tea drinks.

While I still favor the Hawaiian shaved ice for its refreshing ice crystals, these Taiwan-style shaved snow can hit the spot during our Bay Area heat spell.

The deets: Ice Monster, 2230 Oak Grove Road, Walnut Creek. Open daily from noon to 10 p.m.

First bowl of green tea shaved snow and passion fruit bubbies with mini mochi balls.

First bowl of green tea shaved snow and passion fruit bubbies with mini mochi balls.

While the general decor of Ice Monster is pretty sparse, this ceiling light was pretty cool, reminding me of a snow flake.

While the general decor of Ice Monster is pretty sparse, this ceiling light was pretty cool, reminding me of a snow flake.

Second bowl of taro shaved snow with grass jelly and azuki beans.

Second bowl of taro shaved snow with grass jelly and azuki beans.

4 Responses to Cooling Off with Shaved Snow at Ice Monster Walnut Creek

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    There aren’t many places that do the snow-like shave ice. It’s a treat because it tastes so creamy that you can almost fool yourself — just almost — into thinking it’s ice cream. The green tea is always my fave.

    • Ben Ben says:

      I think there are a couple in Dublin, which might be closer to you. You should check them out! 😉

  2. fortunecookie says:

    Actually, the original Ice Monster first started in Taiwan Taipei. I believe its also rank top 5 dessert place around the world. The Ice Monster in Philippines was opened after the Ice Monster in Taipei was opened. However, the Philippines Ice Monster has no connections with the Ice Monster in Taiwan.

    http://www.ice-monster.com/

    • Ben Ben says:

      Hmm, the link you included for the Taiwan one doesn’t really look like the same as this Ice Monster in Walnut Creek. The logo for the Philippines Ice Monster actually matches the logo of this Walnut Creek store, which is why I referenced the Philippines. I’m sure Taiwan came out with it first, though, since shaved snow is so popular there.