Cool It

Beat the Heatwave This Weekend at Nu Cafe

A very Houstonian compromise: the weather isn't always great, but we get Taiwanese ribbon ice.

By Katharine Shilcutt October 8, 2015

Screen shot 2015 10 08 at 11.55.59 am ll6mfh

Vanilla topped with sweetened condensed milk, strawberries, mangoes and rainbow jelly.

In the news today: Katie Nolan's great takedown of Greg Hardy's return to the NFL, an HPD officer's suspension after mailing speeding tickets to drivers he never actually pulled over, and a heat wave that's settling over the city—in October. Hey, not all news can be good news. But at least you can combat those 90-degree temps this weekend with a visit to Nu Café.

Chinatown is saturated with places to get snow ice, shave ice—whatever you call it, there's plenty of the cold, sweet stuff to be found here. In fact, our longtime favorite Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki is right next door to new favorite Nu Cafe in the bustling Dun Huang Plaza. But where Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki has Nu Cafe beat on the convenience front (it's right there in the name—you can get snow ice and teriyaki chicken in one fell swoop), Nu Cafe currently has Star beat when it comes to sheer novelty.

Here, owner Christina Chi serves what's popularly known in Taiwan as "ribbon ice," the result of specially prepared ice cream that's spun through a machine that shaves the dessert into thick sheets that coil and curl onto a plate like a set of shuffled-off silk sheets. The ribbons taste just as indulgent, too, akin to the finely shaved ice found in the snoballs at Mam's House of Ice that melt gently on your palate. Nu Cafe's ribbon ice comes in a variety of flavors, from salted caramel and chocolate to more traditional East Asian options like mango and green tea, and can be topped with an equally large variety of fruits, jellies, tapioca balls and syrups (including, of course, sweetened condensed milk).

Ordering is easy; just pick up a form and choose your base flavor, toppings and any special extras, a la Which Wich or Brown Bag Deli, hand it over to the cashier, pay and await your towering pile of ribbon ice at one of the perpetually sticky tables (there's a lot of traffic coming through here on the weekends; you'll be okay). As you shake off the heat and humidity with each crisp, cold, flavor-packed bite, consider this: Houston, for all of its weather idiosyncrasies, remains one of the few spots in the US where you can enjoy Taiwanese-style ribbon ice.

And anyway, a cool front is coming through next week.

Nu Cafe, 9889 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. 112A, 713-771-7771,



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