Watch out! “Ice Monster,” one of Taiwan’s Most Popular Shaved Ice Shops, is Coming to Japan!

One of Taiwan's most popular shaved-ice shops will be opening in Japan this spring. The very first shop will be opening in the Omotesando/Harajuku area.

As a boy growing up in the Southwestern United States, I was no stranger to the sweltering heat of cloudless desert summers that dried you out like a mummy. Whether at the zoo or the baseball field, I always had a snow cone—a tiny, reassuring ball of slushy water, vaguely flavored "red" or "blue"—clutched in my tiny hand to ward off dehydration, courtesy of my mother. Well, according to this article, these ain't my mother's snow cones! With a name like "Ice Monster," is anybody really surprised?

        

This shop's many shaved-ice flavors, which apparently include everything from fruit, coffee, and even macha, are made from concentrated juices which are then frozen into something called, not so subtly, the "Frozen Ice Block." Again no surprise that this is their specialty! While the first bite hits you like a frigid Arctic wind, the first swallow is soft and fluffy, melting like snow on your tongue. Taiwanese customers say that, "Once you eat one of these [Ice Blocks], you never forget"—and they keep proving it by lining up for more! The rest of the world is taking notice too. "Ice Monster" has been featured on American TV and was spotlighted in a travel magazine that ranked its chilly confections on its "Best Desserts Top 10" list.

But what exactly makes the monster come alive? Well, at least at first, Mango was the secret. Mango-flavored shaved ice has been popular in Japan for ages, but "Ice Monster" founder and owner Frank Lo actually originated the concept! This Taipei Times article tells the story of how Lo concocted the flavor, a variation on a homemade one he enjoyed as a child, in the face of flattening sales—well, I guess the rest is history! Personally, I can't wait to see how the shop fares in Japan. Since the Omotesando/Harajuku area is so close to where I live and work, maybe I'll be first in line—just don't tell my mother, OK?