Put down the shovel and grab a spoon: Snow has returned to New Haven, just in time for summer. And it’s pretty sweet.
Shaved snow is one of the treats on offer at SnoJoy Café, an Asian-style dessert place that opened Friday at 9 Whitney Ave. It starts as a huge frozen block of water, milk, and flavoring—strawberry, mango, taro, milk, or green tea—which is placed on an ice shaving machine. As the machine spins the block, it shaves off razor-thin ribbons of soft, sweet ice. The ice can then be topped with fruit or boba, sweet juicy beads that pop in your mouth. The result is sweet, faintly creamy, and refreshing, somewhere between ice cream and a snow cone.
The dessert, called xue hua bing in Chinese, originated in Taiwan, as did the idea for SnoJoy Café. Childhood friends Jolina Li (pictured) and Nina Xiao were on vacation in the dessert-crazy island last summer when they had the idea to open the restaurant.
“We realized in the States there’s a shortage of dessert shops,” said Li. “In Connecticut there’s pretty much nothing but frozen yogurt.”
That inspired them to open a place that would serve desserts that are all the rage in Taiwan but less common in the Constitution State. Another specialty: honey brick toast, a giant cube of sweetened, toasted bread stuffed and topped with piles of ice cream, fruit, and sweet sauces, meant for sharing.
In frozen yogurt-saturated New Haven, there may be room for a unique dessert snowflake.