Monday, December 06, 2010

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Traditional Taiwanese brown sugar shaved ice 建中黑砂糖刨冰

12/06/2010 Taiwan Explorer
One of the most popular traditional Taiwanese desserts

Jianguo High School black sugar shaved ice or 建中黑砂糖刨冰 (Jianzhong brown sugar ice, pronounced as Jiànzhōng hēishātáng bàobīng) is a traditional Taiwanese brown sugar shaved ice shop in Taipei City, located nearby the Jianguo High School, one of Taiwan's oldest and finest schools, dating back to 1898. The snack consists of shaved or crushed ice, beans, noodles and muscovado, which is a type of unrefined brown sugar commonly used in East Asia (especially in Taiwan and Japan) for various dishes and snacks. Interestingly, Taiwanese call muscovado black sugar or 黑砂糖 (hēishātáng), literally meaning "granular black sugar" (read more about black sugar here). This traditional snack is very popular in Taiwan and can be compared to a similar dish in Singapore and Malaysia called ice kacang. My girlfriend brought me to the shop, after we had a nice stroll in Bitan.

Let me show you some impressions from the famous shaved ice shop:

Looks like a typical ice cream shop from the outside.

The shaved ice machine at the counter as well as many articles, that wrote about the shop.

The inside probably wouldn't win best interior design award.

People are allowed to write on the walls. Some praise the ice, some scribble random stuff.

This is the dish my girlfriend ordered. Looked very promising to me.

And then these beans popped up! Not a fan of beans and ice cream, I must say.

And then there were noodles. And I just thought: That's it, the show is over for me.

In conclusion: This dish is not my favorite Taiwanese dessert, however, my girlfriend loves it and most Taiwanese love it, too. This stall has tradition, it operates over 50 years at the same spot and it draws people from very far to come and try their famous Taiwanese deserts. I tried some ice kacang in Malaysia and also wasn't a fan of it, however I could eat the one with small beans. These beans here were big and so were the noodles. I think the common Westerner would not like this snack, but people who visit from Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian countries would love it. In my country we would never have beans and noodles mixed with ice, hence it's a bit hard to eat this for me. It's not like I can't eat it, it's more like I don't want. I prefer Shin Fa Ting's shaved ice cream or the pao pao ice, but I'll skip this dish. However, if you want to try a famous and popular traditional Taiwanese snack, the brown sugar shaved ice is something should not skip. And it costs less than 1 euro, which is one of the cheapest ice cream dishes in Taipei.

How to find the shop? Go to Chiang Kai-shek MRT Station and then follow this map.