Patbingsu (팥빙수) is the Korean version of the shaved ice dessert. The earliest forms of patbingsu consisted of shaved ice and two or three ingredients, including red bean paste, tteok, and groundnut powder. In fact, the combination of red bean paste and shaved ice is known to be a Korean invention, and nowadays Koreans are very proud of their national dessert – it is eaten everywhere! Popular ingredients of patbingsu include fruit cocktail, whipped cream, ice cream, green tea powder, and maraschino cherries, although many patbingsu nowadays do not include the famous red bean paste, which must be due to the changing taste of the consumer.
Kakigori (かき氷) is a shaved ice dessert from Japan that is usually flavoured with syrup and condensed milk. To sweeten Kakigori, condensed or evaporated milk is often poured on top of it. It is similar to a snow cone, but with some notable differences: it has a much smoother fluffier ice consistency, much like fresh fallen snow, and a spoon is almost always used to eat it. The traditional way of making Kakigori uses a hand cranked machine to spin a block of ice over an ice shaving blade. Popular flavours include strawberry cheesecake, lemon, matcha green tea, and mango!
Baobing (剉冰) is a popular shaved ice dessert in mainland China, especially during the scorching summer months. It is available with a variety of toppings, but most common seems to be fresh mango (when in season). What sets Baobing apart from many others I’ve tried in different countries is the fine quality of the ice – it resembles fluffy snow that just beckons you to make a decoration out of it! Atop the shaved ice, choose from toppings like strawberries, mung beans, grass jelly, or even a scoop of ice cream!
Xue Hua Bing
Xue Hua Bing (雪花冰) is a variation from Taiwan and is commonly referred to as “Taiwanese Snow Ice”. Although visually quite similar, rather than flaky bits of ice like the Baobing, the base of Xue Hua Bing is typically layered-sheets of frozen condensed milk. Consistency is achieved through the milky base and a special machine that shaves the ice. Some might say the result is among the best-looking of all shaved ice desserts! Xue Hua Bing is a major treat in Taiwan’s night markets, and as well as fresh cream and chocolate sprinkles.
Nam Kang Sai
Nam Kang Sai (น้ำแข็งใส) is the most commonly shaved ice found on the streets of Thailand, and the perfect cool-down treat for a hot day. This icy dessert is similar to that of a snow cone, but served in a bowl (or in a bag if purchased off the streets of Thailand). A mound of crushed ice can be topped with several options: pieces of Jackfruit, coconut jelly, candied taro, water chestnuts, kernels of sweet corn, pandan flavored droplets, toddy palm and more! Drizzled with coconut milk or condensed milk, the textures of all the variety of toppings with the crunch of ice in a milky bath calls for a memorable dessert!
Ais Kacang, meaning “ice beans”, is a Malaysian dessert (also common in Singapore). Traditionally, an ice shaving machine is used to churn out the shaved ice used in the dessert. Many coffee shops, hawker centres, and food courts offer this dessert, and it generally comes in bright colours, and almost always contain a large serving of attap chee (palm seed), red beans, grass jelly, and cubes of agar, while other less-common ingredients include durian, cendol, or nata de coco. A final topping of coconut milk is drizzled over the mountain of ice along with red rose syrup (mainly for taste purposes, rather than for visual style).
Halo-Halo is the Filipino shaved ice variant which contains nearly as much evaporated milk as shaved ice, to which various boiled sweet beans, jelly, jackfruit, crushed rice, and even cheese are added. In the Philippines, Halo-Halo (which means “mixed together” in Tagalog) is typically served in a tall glass or bowl. Most of these ingredients are first placed inside the tall glass, followed by the shaved ice. This is then sprinkled with sugar, and topped with leche flan, purple yam, and/or ice cream.