For the past 7 years in a row I’ve been traveling to Taiwan, one of my must-stop eateries is Ice Monster. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago (??) that Ice Monster moved from the crowded 永康街 Yongkang Street–best known for being the flagship location of infamous dumpling house 鼎泰豐 Ding Tai Fung–to a larger and more spacious location on 忠孝東路四段 Zhongxiao East Road, 4th Section.
The move was due in large part to the divorce of the couple who started the shop together. Both of them now own competing mango shaved ice stores: one still in the old location on Yongkang Street and the other in the new location on Zhongxiao East Road.
I hate to say it, but the division has resulted in a dip in quality of the mango shaved ice. The popularity of Ice Monster has continued to skyrocket over the years, resulting in 1-2 hour waits just to get a seat in the Zhongxiao location. CNN has even done a piece on it (they’re #5 on the slide)!
Ice Monster used to be this tiny booth on the corner of the street with no more than 2 counters, and at most 15 stools. People flocked to it then, but my mom and I never had to wait more than 20 minutes for some space to open up. It was this old Ice Monster that we both had the most amazing mango shaved ice of our lives.
The key to amazing mango shaved ice is really the quality of the mangoes. Taiwan’s most popular type of mango is the 愛文芒果 [ai wen man guo], or Aiwen mango. They have beautiful skin painted like the sunset and this delicate, tender, honey-colored flesh that bursts with sweet mango juice when you bite into it.
Ice Monster uses high-quality 愛文, chops them up, pours the chunks over a light bed of snow, drizzles about a teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk, and serves you this delectable concoction with a scoop of creamy mango gelato on top of it all. Like 75% mango, 25% ice/condensed milk/gelato. It’s glorious.
Recently, Ice Monster has tweaked the recipe. Now the ice is shaved into thin, sheet-like layers and there is significantly fewer mango chunks. There is now also the addition of this strange almond tofu thing, which is simply not the same mango shaved ice I’ve always looked forward to eating.
Moreover, the service is a lot slower now. The last two times I went to Ice Monster, I felt like our server had completely forgotten about us. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the major increase in price though. A serving of mango shaved ice at the old Ice Monster on Yongkang Street used to be about 100-120 NTD (~$3-4), and now it is more than double that price.
Overall, still pretty solid mango shaved ice, but a little too expensive for my tastes and too long of a wait to get a table. But if it’s a humid 95-degrees out and you’re a walking waterfall of sweat, it’s worth checking out. 🙂 To find Ice Monster, this address will come in handy:
Taipei City, Daan District, Zhongxiao Rd. Section 4, Number 297