Jen Jen Ice House(人人冰果室)
7, Yu-ming 1st Road — MRT Red line, Shihpai Station (市民一路7號); Tel:28214989. Average meal: NT$40. No English menu. Credit cards not accepted.
Both from its decor and its menu, Jen Jen is one of Taiwan's historic sites for shaved ice. The old-fashioned ice bar has been located in the Shihpai night market
(石牌夜市) in northern Taipei for the last 45 years.
Shaved ice, the oriental equivalent to ice cream, was probably first developed in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. In the early day, it was served with mild flavor of sugar and banana oil — there were none of
the fancy toppings that are available today. Jen-Jen is now one of the few places in northern Taiwan that continues to serve this Old-fashioned Clear Ice (老式清冰), known as Shabeto in Japanese.
At the back of the store, Jen Jen's antique ice-making machine still spins steadily like the wheels of a steam engine, as owner Chang Rei-yuan (張瑞源) pours boiled water, sugar water and banana oil into the large twirling container.
Jen Jen's most popular ice is Sweet Bean Ice (蜜豆冰), which has eight different toppings, including sweet beans, taro, pineapple, yam and water melon, over the Shabeto ice. Another Jen Jen original is a drink called Shi-meng-nai-lu (西檬奶露), which mixes watermelon juice, lemon juice and
milk, a bizarre combination that proves to be very refreshing. The pink-colored drink was trendy in the 1980s but now it is available at only a very few stores. JenJen's is the original.
15, Yung-kang Street (永康街15號); Tel:23948279; 12 noon to 11:30pm. Average meal: NT$80. No English menu. Credit cards not accepted.
You can buy shaved ice almost anywhere in Taiwan, but Igloo's ice is something you have to queue up for. And the secret: its innovative use of mango.
Behind the store's small bar, a young staff swiftly prepare their best known dish — fresh mango ice (新鮮芒果冰). The dish is made from regular shaved ice topped with a thick mango puree mixed with diced mango. This is topped with condensed milk. According to owner Frank Lo (羅際涓), the dish sells nearly 1,500 plates everyday. If you like the fragrance of mango and want your ice with more fruit than syrup, then this dish is a must on your first visit.
Three years ago Lo gave up traditional shaved ice — the sort with assorted bean toppings — and chose to use fresh fruit as his main selling point. "The fruit is all hand-chopped. We chop 500kg of mango everyday," he
said. The fresh fruit is also the secret behind Igloo's homemade mango sorbet. The Mango Sorbet Mix (芒果泡泡冰), made of three scoops of mango sorbet with fruit dices, and Mango Deluxe (芒果爽), a giant glass of mango sorbet, mango smoothy and fresh fruit, are also highly recommended.
In winter, Igloo uses fresh strawberries to create similar ices.
Shin Fa Ting (辛發亭)
1, Anping Street — MRT Red Line Chien-tan Station (安平街1號); Tel:28820206. Open: 12 noon to 1am. Average meal: NT$45. English menu. Credit cards not accepted.
Shaved ice offers great scope for creativity. The 30 year-old Shin Fa Ting is the best example of this. In a small lane of the Shihlin Night Market (士林夜市) packed with food stalls and shaved ice stands, it is the place to
visit for a taste of the original snowflake ice (雪片冰).
Snowflake ice was invented in 1981 by owner Lin Chih-chang (林志昌). He uses milk to make ice blocks and crushes the milk ice using special blades that produce fine layers of "snow-white" ice flakes. Although imitations were soon available, "they don't taste as smooth and soft like ours" Lin said.
Snowflake ice can be served with fruit, chocolate syrup and assorted bean toppings. The most popular dish is Snow Mountain Metamorphosis (雪山蛻變), which is made from peanut butter, milk ice blocks and is topped with rainbow sprinkles.
More recent innovations include green mango sorbet
(情人果雪球), a sweet sour ice and taro sorbet (芋頭雪球) with it's enriched with egg yoke.
Shin Fa Ting also serves traditional Sweet Bean Ice with more than 10 toppings, four kinds of fruit, and a vanilla flavored syrup called Paris Perfume by Lin.
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