A Cool Experience At The Snow Factory

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - August 11, 2010
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Eddie Yoon in his Snow Factory

When new customers arrive at the Snow Factory, they expect to be served either shave ice or frozen yogurt.

Let me be the first to tell you that Eddie Yoon’s marvelous new dessert tastes nothing like either of them.

And while the silky soft, powder-like, white shaved ice looks remarkably like freshly fallen snow, it does-n’t taste like that, either.

Yoon calls it frozen cotton candy, but it comes without the sickly, sticky sweetness of spun sugar.

“Basically we try to keep the calories out of it, so we keep it flavorful without the sugar,” says the co-owner of the new McCully Shopping Center store, who spent more than a year perfecting the fruit flavors.

The “snow ice” concept started in Southeast Asia, and Yoon adapted it to suit a sophisticated Hawaii market with a palate used to year-round shave ice.


“The original version uses condensed milk and is really more like ice cream,” he says. “But we wanted to keep it light, keep the calories to 120 or under and still keep it flavorful.”

While all the snow ice cones appear white, there are a dozen flavors to choose from and more in the works.

Inside the Snow Factory, crisp white walls and kicked-up air conditioning give the impression of a (somewhat) colder climate. Adding a burst of color is a graffiti board filled with positive comments of customers’ cool experiences.

So how does it work? Unlike shave ice, where ice is drizzled with flavored syrups, Yoon and his team flavor water and then make blocks of ice. Once the ice is set, tiny shavings similar in texture to snowflakes are scraped off and served in a bowl. Take a bite and the “snow ice” immediately melts on your tongue and disappears, leaving only the taste of fruit.

It’s quite an amazing experience: The cold, soft, melting snow imparts a vibrant flavor, like eating air, or nothing, or something incredibly sweet and delicious without the guilt.

Popular flavors include lychee, li hing mui, peach and melon, and there should be eight or so new flavors in the store by the end of next month.

“It takes about seven hours to prepare each flavor,” says Yoon, who works to perfect the taste long before the frozen blocks are shaved.

“It can’t be too strong or too sweet. It has to be just right.”

There are a number of toppings you can add to your snow ice, such as cookies, nuts and the usual array of candies you see in most yogurt stores. But the ice is so soft the toppings have to be finely ground so they don’t crush the snow-white pyramids - and truthfully, you don’t need any extra flavor.

For die-hard shave ice fans, the Snow Factory might not be any kind of permanent replacement - although there is a tribute to shave ice in an azuki bean flavor - but for those on the hunt for a fun, sweet and guilt-free treat, this one is certain to thrill.

The Snow Factory
McCully Shopping Center


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