“It’s like the shwarma of shaved ice,” I told some pals by way of describing Snopo. We were at the start of a three-hour food crawl of America’s best Chinatown starting with some of my favorites at New World Mall Food Court. My foodie friends were sad to learn that the purveyor of fluffy shaved ice has been closed for quite some time. “Don’t worry I have something else in mind,” I said.
That something turned out to be ice rice—bing fan—a $7 cold dessert from Gladly Cuisine in the New York Food Court. I’ve been meaning to try it ever since I saw a sign on the counter weeks ago.
“There’s nothing poetic about that name,” my pal Stanford said. Ice rice is quite literally a bowl of rice topped with ice. It’s also crowned with a variety of fruit, including watermelon, pineapple, golden raisins, cloud ear fungus, peanuts, and what I have taken to calling Juicy Fruit jellies, for the chewy red rectangles taste exactly like a certain chewing gum in a yellow package.
Ice rice is cool, refreshing, and unusual and fun to share with a group of friends. “I wonder how they get the rice to have that texture,” my friend Shanti mused. “It’s like gummi bears.” As for Stanford and myself we were left scratching our heads as to 1) whether the folks who run Gladly Cuisine are from Fujian and 2) whether they invented the dish. The provenance of bing fan answer might remain a mystery, but one thing’s certain, I’ll be eating plenty more of it this summer.