On a boiling planet, it’s no wonder so many cultures have different expressions of icy desserts. When it gets hot, we search for a cold treat, like a primordial imperative that makes this burning world feel OK if only for a fraction of a moment. Whether that’s ice cream, raspados, popsicles, soft serve, bingsu, sorbets, kakigori — all are unified by the mission of ice-cold joy.
Icy treats have an appeal across the world that’s reflected in the Bay Area. Each version is its own, sourcing flavors, techniques and ingredients from its respective heritage. Bingsu, the Korean shaved ice (sometimes stylized as bingsoo), involves freezing a block of ice and cream and shaving ribbons into a lush, smooth consistency. For kakigori and Hawaiian shave ice, ice blocks are sliced and flavored with syrups and fruit purees. Persian ice cream infuses dairy with saffron threads and pistachios. Filipino halo halo seems to combine it all in an ultimate sundae.