The colors, textures and temperatures are constantly in flux inside the Snow Dragon Shavery in Lincoln Park. The owners realized they could take something like snow and give it some nuance.
"Chicago is known for snow, so why not make the flavor of snow - with Taiwanese and Hawaiian ice - so we just came up with this idea," said Farhad Meghani, co-owner of Snow Dragon Shavery.
The result: a kaleidoscope of icy colors and flavors, which you get to doctor-up as you wish. Maybe it's topped with tiny mochi balls, tapioca pearls or chocolate crunch -- you name it.
"Each flavor comes with two or three toppings. The boba is mixed jellies. The condensed drizzle, depends on the flavor. It's all natural," Meghani said.
They also do some creative things with macarons, enlarging them and turning them into ice cream sandwiches. Same goes for glazed donuts, which become the housing for scoops of ice cream. They'll even stuff a watermelon with your favorite frozen yogurt.
The ice machine gets a real workout at Meet Fresh, part of a global chain of Taiwanese dessert shops that now has more than two dozen locations in the U.S., including one in Chicago's Chinatown.
"The whole brand is making the taro and herbal jelly desserts. Fresh, traditional, fresh desserts," said Yang Liu, the managing partner.
Some are hot, others icy cold. But all are quite elaborate. Consider the Q-Mochi Shaved Ice creation.
"Refined sugar and also condensed milk and mochis, small taro balls, noodle jelly, taro rice balls, ice cream and caramel and coconut flakes," said Ashley Liang, one of the employees.
A mountain of shaved ice is shaped into a tower, which gets ladles of sugar syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Chewy mochi, taro-stuffed rice balls and noodle-shaped jellies offer lots of soft texture to counteract the harder ice. A scoop of creamy ice cream gets a shower of caramel sauce and a shake or two of dried coconut for a riot of flavor, texture and creaminess. Great for a group, but also possible to enjoy solo.
"We provide the big space for big family or group to just hang out," said Liu.
Now not all of the desserts at Meet Fresh could feed a family; you can also go individual size if you want to just have a little personal creamy, icy, cold mocha experience this summer.
Also, in honor of National Ice Cream Day, the "I Crave Festival" is happening 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Antique Taco (1000 W. 35th St.) in Bridgeport, featuring several donut and ice cream shops
Snow Dragon Shavery
2618 N. Clark St.
2026 S. Clark St.