Monday, June 25, 2012

moved/taiwanese/desserts: i strongly recommend ICE MONSTER (ZHONGXIAO) & HAPPY 7th BLOGIVERSARY TO ME

No. 297, ZhongXiao E. Road, Sec. 4 台北市忠孝東路四段297號
(02) 8771-3263

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall


hours: 11AM-10:30PM

$$ cash only

visit reviewed:  6/21/2012
previous visits reviewed: 12/2009 and 6/2009

Hello hello!! HungryinTaipei is now 7 years old!

There's been over 1 million hits since I started this blog 7 years ago. Wow! Thanks so much for reading, commenting, facebookingtwittering, instagramming and being hungry along with me. I even have an app now for quicker searching and creating your own Taipei rolodex on the iphone/ipad and started adding Chinese to the blog this year for the first time for the app.

So where was the very first place I posted about seven years ago? 

Ice Monster. I remember when I first came back to visit Taipei in the late 1990s and I had no idea where to go, and my aunt said, just get in the taxi and tell them the "shaved ice place on Yong Kang Jie." It was a must try destination as a tourist and though less so when I moved here, I'd still take friends who visited me. Now it's closed its Yong Kang Street location for good after a brief stint as Yong Kang 15 (which I never made it to), which I found out a few weeks ago when I tried to take some friends from Manila and discovered it was boarded up. (Did you know it had closed?! Or that it had reopened?)

Thanks to my friends on twitter, I found out it had moved to bigger, shinier 東區 digs on Zhongxiao East Road. No more huddling in the shack like shop, waiting for a table. Now there's air conditioning, plenty of seating and even restrooms!

I passed by it with some friends last week and we had to give it a try on a rainy afternoon after spotting it didn't have much of a wait outside. A rainbow of mini popsicles and canele shaped konyaku tempt you from the front cooler counter.

You order from the menu from the front counter- the old school shaved ices topped with ice cream and fruit are aptly called Avalanches, the creamy snowflake ices are Sensations, or you can drink up a Mocktail or Freeze. The names of the desserts are in English, but the descriptions are in Chinese.

Ice Monster for the new age- bright yellow monster napkin holders on each table for posing in photos, even the napkins and restroom signs have the distinct drawings. Maybe it hasn't reached the rest of the world yet, but in Taipei, everyone seems to be taking photos of their food, or with their food, or eating their food, armed with everything from an iphone to a heavy duty DSLR.

While we wait for our number to be called to pick up our shaved ices, a bowls of samples get dropped off at our table to try new flavors. So don't order too much, you might get a new flavor or two to try. I know the table next to us was also surprised to get one.

Finally our Mango Avalanche (NT$180) comes and it really is an avalanche of cubed mangos, pudding, condensed milk, syrup, topped with a snowball of mango sorbet. It seems to come in a smaller bowl with less shaved ice than I remember, but luckily they don't skimp on the mango so there's still plenty to share for 2-4 people. Drool.

But of course, my friends and I didn't share just one ice. We were greedy.

The Fantastic Mix Avalanche (NT$180) also looks familiar, with the combo mango, kiwi and strawberry fruit cascading down a hill of shaved ice and topped with mango sorbet. The fruit doesn't need so much condensed milk, but it is still blanketed in a layer of it.

The Bubble Milk Tea Sensation (NT$160) is a bowl of thick, creamy ribbons of sweet shaved milk tea flavored snow with a side of sweet tapioca balls. Like a frozen boba milk tea deconstructed and frozen for the Taipei heat.

There's also more traditional shaved ice options (mung bean, grass jelly, red bean, taro) as well as summer options like the Lemon Jasmine Tea Sensation which comes with a touch of passion fruit.

With the opening of Ice Monster at the new location, hopefully not too many tourists will taxi this summer to Yong Kang Street to find their hopes to fill their mango ice cravings dashed. Though we didn't have to wait when we arrived, when we left there was a short line of 7 or 8 people. Ice Monster's prices are definitely slightly higher to pay the Dong Qu 東區 rent, and while there's quite a few other comparable mango ice places in town now, I'll hold a special place in my heart for Ice Monster for being my first after seven years and counting!!


Unknown said...

Congratulations! I think your blog is really useful! :)


Angela said...

Congratulations on 7 years!!

I showed my mom the pictures of the new location - we can't wait to try it out next time we're in town :)

Steve said...

Happy 7th anniversary!

kirbie said...

Happy Bloggaversary! 7 years, what an accomplishment and this post is very drool worthy. Makes me really miss Taiwan!

tt said...

CONGRATS on seven years! From what it started, to what it is today, it is truly a great accomplishment.

Nice write-up on Ice Monster too. While I am still curious as to why they had to leave Yongkang, I'm glad to see they have not abandoned their customers. We will definitely visit next time on Taipei. :)

JL said...

Congrats! Just on Ice Monster - the couple who owned the old store was getting a (nasty) divorce & the shop closed because they couldn't agree on the % ownership etc. I'm guessing one of them bought the other out eventually if they've opened a new one...

joanh said...

gemma/taipeistyle: thank you so much!

angela- i think you guys are going to love it!

steve- thanks!

kirbie- thank you!! hope you get a chance to visit again soon!

tt- thank you! hope to see you again soon!

JL- it's weird though because they already closed the shop once and made it into Yong Kang 15... i agree, something weird to have to move out of its famous space. probably wanting to expand and be on the new part of town on zhongxiao, but why not have 2 locations

Anonymous said...

They are still open? I thought they closed after the row between the owner and his wife. A messy divorce. That's why they left Yong Kang.

jen said...

"the owner and his wife" -- the original Ice Monster was the wife's baby; she created the recipes, etc, and ran the business. i'm curious to know which one of them is running this new iteration...

hungrygirl, do you know?

Anonymous said...

Congrats on 7 years!!! I use it everytime I'm back in TW.

Have u tried Mango Cha Cha for dessert yet? If not I'd recommend a visit.

Thanks and keep up the good work.

Kevin Wu said...

i heard the new ICE MONSTER was opened by the husband after the split.

Just went there today (:

Christine said...

Congrats on 7 years of blogging! When's the party?