10 Great Shaved Ice Spots In NYCWhen you can feel the heat rising up from the sidewalk, it’s time to get some shaved ice.
If sweat is soaking through your tee in Rorschach-like blots, analysis says: you need some shaved ice. And while we love Italian ices and coco helado as much as anyone, nothing beats Asian-style frozen desserts for the sheer variety of flavors and toppings. Our guide includes styles from Korean bingsoo to Japanese kakigōri, versions with silky smooth or crunchy ice, and both personal servings and gigantic ones. It’s more hydrating than ice cream, right?
Even if you typically roll your eyes at people snapping food photos, it will take incredible restraint to leave your phone in your pocket when Sweet Moment’s over-the-top bingsoo arrives at your table. You could order a small serving, but getting a large one is a lot more fun. They’re about a foot tall, with ice packed so tight it almost has the texture of ice cream, and made to share with friends—which is easy to do in this spacious Korean dessert cafe in Chinatown. Get the matcha strawberry version, with red and green sauce dripping down the sides like lava.
This all-day Thai snack shop in Elmhurst has lots of outdoor seating and two frozen desserts that are worth going out of your way for. The first is a traditional shaved ice with a whirlwind of textures and toppings like corn, beans, boba, and grass jelly. The second is the Rooty Tooty, a shaved ice-adjacent slushy dessert, which comes in Thai tea, Ovaltine, and red and green "flavors." The slush base is covered with chunks of soft bread, corn flakes, and condensed milk.
The Japanese desserts at this Chinatown cafe look like pieces of pop art in a minimalist gallery. The refreshing kakigōri comes in perfectly molded, ombré spheres of flaky, loosely packed ice, which means it melts pretty fast. Get the pineapple coconut version, and top it with sugar coated mochi pieces that look like Fruity Pebbles.
Happy Salad is a modern Hong Kong-style cafe in Bensonhurst’s Chinatown, and they make a solid traditional shaved ice. It comes with taro and sweet potato mini mochi, red bean, grass jelly, and boba—and unlike some of the others on this list, it’s actually a reasonable serving size for one person. They also make a lot of fruit slushy drinks that you can order at the counter and take to go—we especially like the red bean and passionfruit versions.
This Flushing cafe has excellent shaved ice in popular flavors like matcha, taro, and mango, but also a relatively uncommon chocolate one, with peanuts and cheese foam. Choose from nearly 40 different toppings, like grass jelly, black sticky rice, and dragon fruit, to add to your mountain-shaped serving of powdery ice. With a bookstore-meets-bistro aesthetic, Flower and Dessert is a good place to get work done with easy access to caffeine and sugar.
Lazy Sundaes on the LES specializes in bingsoo made with uber soft, oat milk-based snow that resembles very finely grated cheese. They sell seven different varieties, and each is made with your choice of organic dairy or vegan coconut condensed milk. The sundaes, each around $10, are about the size of a red Solo cup, so they’re perfect for one person. Our favorite has chunks of fresh mango and mochi, but if you want something less sweet, get the hojicha with red beans.
It’s hard to beat Meet Fresh’s shaved ice for variety. At the Sunset Park location of this casual boba shop, you can get mountains of shaved ice with simple things like mango, strawberries, and condensed milk, or you can go for their over-the-top Q Mochi Milk option, which comes with four different kinds of chewy toppings and a scoop of ice cream for good measure. We also love their brown sugar boba shaved ice, which is basically a boba drink in dessert form. There’s lots of seating, which is good, because you’ll want to come with a small group to tackle this massive frozen dessert.
Matcha usually plays the backup singer at most cafes, but it’s the headlining act at Matcha Cafe Maiko in Chinatown. The refreshing matcha syrup-infused shaved ice has chunkier crystals, so the ice has a crunchy consistency. We like topping ours with Calpico soft serve, and waiting until the cream begins to melt and meld with the ice. You can also add toppings like cheese foam, chocolate syrup, or a waffle cone. This location has only one small ledge and no tables, but you’ll inhale your order within minutes, so there’s really no reason to linger.
Don’t let the small counter at this dessert spot in Koreatown fool you. Peek around the corner, and you’ll see a humongous, semi-hidden room that looks like a high school cafeteria with high tops and picnic tables. You won’t go wrong with any of the impossibly fluffy shaved ices, but our go-to is the mango one. It comes with banana slices and a portion of perfectly ripe mango chunks that would cost a small fortune at Whole Foods. Despite all the seating, this place is always packed. Just hover around the room like a vulture, and someone will get up soon enough.
The bingsoo at Ariari is the most challenging one to access on this guide, simply because it’s rather difficult to score a table here. But once you do, make sure to end your meal with their pastel pink, schisandra berry-flavored bowl of crushed ice. It’s not too sweet, and there’s only one topping: Asian pear jelly. The only thing that would make this dessert better is more of that jelly.