Snow King, an ice cream shop located in Taipei, capital city of Taiwan, serves more than 70 flavors of fresh, homemade ice cream. There’s nothing unusual about that, I agree. But wait till you hear what these flavors include.
The shop, in business since 1947, boasts of carrying the most unusual of ice cream flavors. Over here, you can get a lick of Sesame Oil Chicken, a dollop of Pig Knuckle, and even a scoop or two of Taiwan Beer. The family-owned business is now being run by the third generation – 33-year-old Kao Ching-feng. “At Snow King, you get the tastes that Taiwanese know,” said Kao. According to him, customers keep coming back for the local flavors and old-fashioned style. They like visiting in large groups, so they can sample a scoop each of all the flavors.
The most famous specialties at Snow King are Red Bean and Watermelon, preferred by the locals. Tourists from Japan like to try exotic flavors like Lychee and Peach, while customers from Hong Kong want Curry and Wasabi. All these unusual ice cream recipes are the brainchild of Kao’s 87-year-old grandfather. He had founded the business out of his savings from selling ice cream on the streets of Taipei. Kao says that his grandfather liked to challenge himself and spent years tweaking flavors to his satisfaction. Some of his best flavors came from trying to accommodate his older, diabetic customers. That’s how he invented with Snow King’s range of savory ice creams.
Photo: Rok On
Kao’s grandfather retired from business over 10 years ago, but his influence remains. The store still looks the same – a modest space that’s clean and quiet, furnished with sturdy wooden countertops and stools. All the ice creams at Snow King are made from fresh produce – the wasabi, the kaoliang liquor and other ingredients are procured locally. Savory flavors like the sesame oil chicken are cooked on the spot. The only non-local ingredient used is the Korean ginseng.
Photo: Samantha Brown
Kao might not have much innovation to do at Snow King, but running the place is hard work. Making ice cream is not easy – especially flavors like Buddha’s Head Fruit that needs to be peeled bit by bit. Kao thinks this job doesn’t give him as much free time as his previous one in insurance. But he doesn’t mind, thanks to his grandfather’s values: “You must work hard to make money.”
Here are some more examples of wacky flavors at Snow King: Fruit – carrot, mulberry, sugar apple; Vegetable – yam, basil, bitter melon; Liquor – brandy, beer, Kinmen Kaoliang; Tea – oolong, jasmine, green tea; Spicy – wasabi, pepper, mint; Salty – pig’s feet, pork floss, tofu. Priced between NT$60 to $120 per scoop (US $2 to $4), I think they’re worth a try.
Snow King isn’t the most bizarre ice cream shop in the world. Last year, we wrote about Coromoto in Venezuela, a unique ice-cream shop offering over 900 flavors.