Shaved ice isn’t just relegated to that nostalgic, syrupy snow cone. In fact, a new construction of shaved ice is starting to develop in the South Bay.

This week, I ventured to Red Hot Wok in Cupertino that has become especially known for their dessert—a selection of six shaved ices that come in milk, green tea, strawberry, chocolate, mango and taro ($5.45/$7.95).

On a blistering Sunday afternoon every seat inside was filled and groups of people waited outside perusing the menu. We opted to get our desserts to go and eat them on the bench outside.

I could hear that Red Hot Wok, like most businesses today, uses a motorized machine that shaves the ice into much thinner and finer sheets. When done properly, it tastes like fallen snow on the tongue. Historically this work was done by hand, either with a mallet or a hand-cranked machine.

Hot Wok’s rendition was exactly what I was looking for. Flavors are embedded beforehand in the ice, producing colorful, flavored flakes of ice when it’s shaved. The taro was radiantly violet, with chunks of the root vegetable sprinkled on top like confetti. The ice retained the sweet nuttiness of the taro root and its lush color made it fun to eat. Similarly, the green tea was just as eye-catching, with its dewy, jade color and clusters of red beans on top. The soothing taste of the green tea and the sweetness of the red bean had an assuring balance to it that was refreshing.

Ice desserts are fairly common in other cultures, but nowhere as much as in Asia, where each country has its own variant. The Chinese have baobing, and specialize in an “Eight Treasure” concoction. Malaysia’s rendition is ais cacang and is often topped with sweet corn and agar-agar, gelatinous cubes derived from red algae, among other things. Filipinos have halo-halo, and the Japanese have kakigori.

With its lower calorie content and fun, crunchy texture, it will be interesting to watch this dessert trend take shape.

Red Hot Wok
10074 E Estates Drive, Cupertino. 408.996.2999