Snow Ice is not a weather phenomenon, but an Asian sweet icy treat, popular in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada.

This Taiwanese-style shaved ice is different than the traditional snow cones covered with colorful sugar syrups. It requires a special machine that cuts wide ribbon-like shavings from a block of pre-flavored ice, so that it can easily melt in your mouth. The light texture is unique. Probably the closest thing to tasting freshly fallen snow inside the city.

A typical basic serving includes your choice of one ice flavor – milk, green tea, mango, strawberry and a few more, plus toppings similar to those found at froyo shops (i.e. fresh fruit, oreo cookies, gummy bears, sprinkles, M&M’s, etc.), and swirls of syrup: caramel, chocolate, condensed milk, mango, or strawberry.

Earlier this year, the first local shop featuring this icy treat was 37 Degrees Dessert Cafe (1155 Taraval, 5pm-1am) in the Sunset district, using a machine imported from Taiwan. Each plate of snow ice ($4.50) includes three toppings and one syrup, and you can add more items for 50 cents each.

Fluffy Snow (1314 Noriega, Noon-10:30pm) which opened just two weeks ago, is the latest shop to join the snow ice trend currently invading many U.S. cities. They use equipment and supplies imported from Canada. Each cup of snow ice ($5.25) includes two toppings and one syrup, additional toppings are just 25 cents each.

If you want to try something different instead of ice cream or froyo, get yourself some snow in the sunset.

Photo Credit: Luis Chong