11311 Mississippi Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025
If there’s one single thing, food wise, that LA does better than NYC, it’s their Taiwanese food. And I am a Taiwanese food expert.
After a quick snack at Seoul Sausage, we lined up for Blockheads Shavery. It’s right beside each other on the plaza’s strip. The line was full of students from the surrounding UCLA area. We got there around 10 p.m. and the wait was probably 25 minutes. The store itself is quite small. Imagine the space of a mid sized Pinkberry. There are seats inside, but very limited compared to how many people actually order from this place. There’s one cash guy taking the order, two guys shaving the actual ice block with a machine and one guy that assembles it. (He is so good at squeezing condensed milk, it’s ridiculous.)
There are a variety of flavours to choose from: green tea, black sesame, strawberry, original. The base price is something like $3.99 and every add on item is 50 cents. Toppings range from very asian to very froyo joint. (ex. rice cakes, red bean to yogurt chips) Then you can drizzle it with condensed milk, caramel, chocolate sauce etc.
I decided to go for the traditional Asian topping of rice cakes and condensed milk. Rice cakes are glutinous balls that are chewy. If you’ve had tangyuan, these are the chewy outsides.
1. Green tea with red bean and grass jelly.
2. Black sesame with rice cakes.
3. Original with grass jelly and lychee fruit.
The texture is a mystery to solve! Shaved ice, in it’s original form, is a cube chunk of ice shaved by a machine, topped with toppings and a drizzle of brown sugar syrup. Blockheads has chosen the new form, which is freezing different flavours of ice chunks. In Taiwan, they call it xuehua bing 雪花冰, which just means snow flake ice. Anyway, it looks fluffy, but after you spoon it into your mouth, it almost is like a chewy caramel consistency. I wanted to chew on every bite I took. Others compare it to an ice cream consistency, which makes more sense. It quickly melts on your tongue and you’re in for the next bite.
If you’ve never had shaved ice before, please go here and treat yo self. There seems to always be lines at trendy LA places, but this is worth it. Go with a few friends, get different flavours and try out which ones you like.
I was so satisfied with my black sesame flavour. It was creamy with just the right hint of the burnt seed after taste. Usually in black sesame ice creams, the burnt taste of the sesame is overpowering. The green tea was also very tasty. The original I could do without — just tasted like milk.
I didn’t end up finishing the rice cakes because they don’t settle well in my stomach. My shaved ice toppings usually are grass jelly (super healthy for you), red bean and taro cakes 芋圓.
We almost decided to go back on our last night in LA, but we ended up being too full at dinner to exercise this gluttony. But now I dream of it every day!