Three friends, two of them L.A. singles, discover a Taiwanese frozen treat and bring their own rendition to Blockheads Shavery in the Sawtelle district.
Ice cream and frozen yogurt fans — get ready for a new frosty treat inspired by a Chinese concoction known as xue hua bing but reconfigured by three 32-year-old Los Angeles entrepreneurs into what they call “snow cream” at their new storefront, Blockheads Shavery Company, located in the Japanese-influenced Sawtelle district of West L.A.
“It’s been a popular dessert in Taiwan for a long time,” says Alex Yu, the only one of Blockheads’ founders who isn’t single. He said one of his partners, the Taiwan-born Alex Liu, was already familiar with the sweet treat, but the spark to bring the creamy concoction to the U.S. began when the third partner, Evan Lew, went to Taiwan and had some there. He came back raving about how it was the best dessert he’d ever had.
“At the time, we didn’t know anywhere in Los Angeles where you could get it,” Alex Yu said. We were like, ‘Why isn’t this big over here?’”
The three friends found a Chinese restaurant in Rowland Heights that offered xue hua bing on their menu. For Alex Yu it was a revelation. “When I tried it I was like, ‘Let’s do it — if we can do it right.’”
The three friends continued to talk about it, in a serious way, and began developing their own recipes, using low-fat dairy milk, and natural flavors and ingredients. “We tried making different things,” Alex Yu said. “We experimented. It was totally trial and error.” Two years later, in November 2011, after testing their snow cream at places such as the Long Beach Lobster Fair, they opened their first Blockheads Shavery location.
“We looked for a space in Santa Monica, in Venice and in Westwood, but came back to this place in the Sawtelle district because it had the best mix of people, restaurants and foot traffic,” Alex Yu said, noting that many people stop by their place for dessert after dinner at one of the area’s Asian restaurants.
The snow cream at Blockheads comes in exotic flavors such as black sesame, taro and green tea as well as the more conventional strawberry and something called “original,” a lightly sweetened milk flavor, all made in-house.
Although variations of shaved ice can be found around town, the snow cream at Blockheads is made with the three partners’ proprietary recipe. The snow cream, is frozen to a specific temperature, then “shaved” into thin, ribbon-like strips and topped with a variety of goodies, from exotic Chinese rice cake and red beans to frozen yogurt shop staples like crumbled Oreo cookies and rainbow sprinkles.
You may be wondering how many calories there are in that big bowl of snow cream with toppings.
Alex Yu says he’s hasn’t figured that part out yet. But since it’s made with reduced-fat milk and all natural ingredients — and the shaving process makes it light and fluffy — he says it can’t be too sinful a pleasure.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2012 Singular Communications, LLC.
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