Shaved ice, or snow cone as it’s often referred to, is a pretty straightforward treat here in Canada.
That’s where Snowy Dessert comes in—an Asian dessert company recently opened in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood, and the first of its kind in Alberta.
The shop’s signature dessert, Bingsu (or Bingsoo as it’s sometimes spelled), is hugely popular in Korea, China and other Asian countries.
“The easiest way to describe Bingsu is just shaved ice,” says Zheng Guan, operating director of Snowy Dessert. “But the difference between normal shaved ice and Bingsu, is that Bingsu is about 90 percent pure milk, and ten percent secret ingredient.”
Its mountainous shape and piled-high, mouth-watering toppings are visually pleasing, and the shop offers enough options to satisfy anyone’s taste buds with selections like cheesecake, red bean, mango, and green tea to name a few.
The base of the dish is a generous helping of shaved ice that is soaked in milk, layered with varying ingredients, topped with the menu option of your choice and finished with whipped cream. Each selection is a bit different, depending on what is ordered.
The flavour is rich and creamy, but not heavy, and the texture is completely unlike typical shaved ice offered up in North America—it’s closer in texture to ice cream.
Fruit toppings, shaved ice, and sweet milk are only part of this over the top creation. As noted on Snowy Desserts’ website, the treat can also incorporate fruit syrup, rice cake, jelly, and even cereal. It’s no doubt a decadent and delicious way to beat the heat in the summer months.
As to how the treat came about, it originated centuries ago.
“Back even just a couple hundred years ago in Korea, they had little food, so something they would do was freeze milk, because everyone in the countryside raised cows,” Guan says. “After freezing the milk, they used a knife to shave it, and put whatever toppings in it they liked.”
Guan also gives credit to the original founder of the dessert chain, Jake Kim, who originated the Snowy Village franchise in Asia (Snowy Dessert is an authorized franchise of Kim’s). Kim has been on hand to help the Snowy Dessert crew out with training during their first week here.
While other popular dessert shops such as Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt have started to sell a similar product, Snowy Dessert promises theirs is unique.
“I don’t see others as being really authentic. There are quite a few competitors in the city, but what we focus on is quality control,” Guan says. “Right now we’re focused on Bingsu, and people are loving it. It all depends on taste, and it all depends on the customers.”
Though sweets are their main focus, the shop also features items for those looking for something other than shaved ice. Taiyaki, one of the alternative items, is a small fish-shaped cake that can have either sweet or savoury fillings. Their most unpredictable item however is mini hot dogs, which will come as a savoury surprise to customers expecting only desserts.
Opening the store in Edmonton was a no-brainer for Guan, who has called the city his home for a while.
“It’s the relationship between me and Edmonton. I came to Canada 12 years ago, and the first place I landed was Edmonton,” he says. “Edmonton is a great place to start a business. I started here, and have lived here for more than 10 years. It’s a second home town.”
The store’s interior has a locally focused design, with a large feature wall made of real stone. Guan notes that the modern elements mixed with the stone accents help mesh the inside with the outside Whyte Avenue location.
10209 82 Ave