Taiwan’s Mango Shaved Ice is the Perfect Dessert

Huge mangoes grown in Taiwan

It seems like anywhere you go in Taiwan, it’s impossible not to find a place selling mango shaved ice. This concoction typically involves a bowl full of shaved ice, mangos cut into cubes, some condensed milk to further sweeten the dish. Many places top it off with a couple scoops of ice cream. This is all well and good, but when the mango is perfect, simplicity is preferred.

Down in Tainan County, about four hours from Taipei, farmers grow the most incredible mango I’ve ever tasted. I’d sampled many variations of my favorite fruit in Cambodia, where locals claim there are more than ten kinds. Tainan’s Irwin mangos are on another level and apparently a popular export to Japan. Plus, they’re twice the size of the typical mango. A shaved ice vendor in Tainan gladly told all of this to my brother, who speaks Mandarin.

I forgot the name of the lady’s mom and pop shop, but it was a small one on Hi’An Road (the popular bar street) and north of Minsheng Road. My brother wanted to try the strawberry shaved ice, but she warned him that it contains only syrup and not real strawberries. He settled on banana for 40 TWD ($1.25 USD). I splurged on the mango version, which cost 80 TWD ($2.50 USD). My brother liked his banana dish but regretted not ordering the mango shaved ice.

My portion was enormous, and the natural juices and just a dab of condensed milk turned the shaved ice into the most refreshing ice cream I’ve ever had. Ice cream was not included and was not necessary. My lame picture doesn’t do it justice, but this mango shaved ice was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. I reluctantly shared some with my brother. Now I’m craving some more mango shaved ice.

mango shaved ice and banana shaved ice

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Karge

Karge

I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?