Editor's Picks

10 International Icy Treats to Cool You Off This Summer

Take a cold, sugary trip around the world with these refreshing delights.

By Timothy Malcolm May 24, 2019 Published in the June 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Got the summertime blues? There is, actually, a cure for that: an ice-cold treat. This season take a journey around the world—hey, it’s Houston—and enjoy these delights:

Agha Juice

This Pakistani shop is known for its tropical juices, faloodas (ice cream drinks with vermicelli noodles, basil seeds, and syrup), and—our favorite—tangy, sweet gola ganda, traditional desserts made with shaved ice, condensed milk, and syrups in flavors including orange, rose, and the tamarind-derived khala khatta.

Bambu Desserts & Drinks

The offerings are myriad at the Houston location of this national chain—teas, smoothies, juices, and coffees—but this summer, go for a chè, a loaded Vietnamese dessert drink topped with crushed ice. There are nine flavors on offer, and it's impossible to go wrong, but we can’t get enough of the exhilarating Fruit Addict, which combines lychee, longan, jackfruit, red tapioca, pandan jelly, palm seed, Jell-o, and coconut milk.

Best of Filipiniana

After enjoying a buffet lunch of, say, traditional Filipino beef or goat stew, have a halo-halo to cool down. The popular crushed ice drink contains many tasty things: evaporated milk, flan, banana, jackfruit, pineapple, toasted rice, white beans, and vanilla ice cream. It’s creamy, crispy, sweet, and savory, all at the same time.

Flamingo Chill

With its neon palm trees and Miami Vice color scheme, this shop might be mistaken for the hottest ’80s club in Houston; actually, it’s a great place for raspas, or Mexican snow cones. Find a spot on the large patio to enjoy your hot dog and chamoyada (a mango raspa coupled with salty, spicy chamoy) or diablito (a lime one doused in Tajín and chamoy for a chile-citrus explosion).

Gogo Ice

Tucked inside a shopping mall, this no-frills shop offers both Taiwanese boba drinks and Hawaiian shaved ice in enormous portions with toppings including kiwi, mango, strawberry, and taro. Top yours off with a dollop of rich coconut ice cream and a splash of condensed milk.

Image: Alice Levitt

Moody Ice

You’ll pay a little more here, but the enormous icy treats are lovely to look at, and the surroundings—board games and toys, a peppy pop soundtrack, outdoor seating—are inviting. There’s Hawaiian shaved ice, smoothies, and slushies on offer, along with the shop’s titular treat in more than a dozen fun flavors, including chocolate-covered banana with strawberries, and tart blackberry-lavender with chocolate chips.

Nu Cafe

Snowflake ice, as it’s called in Taiwan, involves freezing water and condensed milk, then running it through a machine that shaves it into treats that resemble flaky, ridged mountains. This Dun Huang Plaza shop specializes in the creation, and we love the matcha flavor and the dreamy sea-salt-caramel version, especially when it's topped with rainbow marshmallows, Oreos, and condensed milk.

Sno Dreamz

You haven’t lived until you’ve added chopped pickles to your snow cone. This colorful little stand with two Houston locations serves ice chopped so fine, it’s almost smooth—an excellent vehicle for all its creations, but especially the Pick-a-Dilly, a sweet-and-sour snow cone with dill pickle pieces and a cherry Kool-Aid topping. If that’s not your thing, though, try the Superman, a mix of tiger’s blood (coconut, strawberry, watermelon) and dreamsicle (orange and vanilla) syrups. Snacks including boudin and Frito pies are also on offer.

Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki

After a plate of beef teriyaki or a fried pork chop at this bustling combo spot inside Dun Huang Plaza, order one of the shaved ices for a sweet finish. There are seven base flavors—get the refreshing green tea—with the ice folded into pretty ribbons. Load up your cup with up to four toppings, from kiwis to red beans. Condensed milk is 50 cents extra.

Tampico Refresqueria

When it’s warm, there’s sure to be a line at this cheerful stand offering elote, Hot Cheetos nachos, and “natural” raspas with homemade syrups. Our favorites among the icy treats: the piquant tamarindo topped with crema, and the limón with a healthy dousing of chamoy.

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