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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Summer Sweets: 37 Degrees Dessert Cafe's Shaved Ice

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM

click to enlarge Green Tea Ice at 37 Degrees Dessert Cafe. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Green Tea Ice at 37 Degrees Dessert Cafe.

The sunny weather inspired a visit to 37 Degrees Dessert Cafe, a two-year-old Asian dessert and snack shop in the Outer Sunset. The cafe offers a unique version of shaved ice, previously only found at San Jose's now-defunct Snow Miracle. It's called snow ice.

Late last year, owner Diane Cheung installed a new shaved ice machine that creates paper-thin ribbons, a style common in Vancouver and Taiwan (L.A., too, but we don't really care what happens down there). Unlike Hawaiian- or Japanese-style shaved ice, which is crunchy and covered with sugary syrup, this ice is preflavored, with a delicate texture that melts as soon as it hits your tongue ― the main reason why it's earned the nickname "frozen cotton candy."

The shop offers five flavors: original (milk), chocolate, strawberry, green tea, and mango. For $4.50, you get three toppings and a syrup of your choice. After that, it's 50 cents for each flavor or topping.

Ordering is simple. Look for the paper slips on each table, mark your selections, and give it to the waitress. For other food, ask for the regular menu or grab one from the stack on the counter. The large laminated tri-fold menu will probably confound most non-Asians, with its wide variety of fried snacks ― waffles, chicken wings, and noodle soups ― and elaborate desserts (ice cream, pudding, fresh fruits, pearl barley, or tofu), with exotic ingredients like aloe vera, sago, lotus seeds, seaweed, coral weed, and "tadpoles" (gelatin). But no coffee.

Our mountain-high order of green tea ice with condensed milk, bananas, mango, and mochi was a delight. Plus, because it melted so quickly, there was little risk of brain freeze.

The place tends to get crowded late, the preferred time for young Hong Kong expats. And in case you were wondering about the name, 37 degrees Celsius is the average temperature of the human body.

37 Degrees Dessert Cafe: 1155 Taraval (at 22nd Ave.), 566-3887.

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Luis Chong

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