Update! Our beloved Snow King has reopened – the location is the same, but the shop now operates out of the second floor. The look is new but the unique and delicious ice cream remains the same!
Operating since 1947, the famous Snow King Ice Cream must be one of Taiwan’s most distinctive ice cream shops. The vintage storefront creates a nostalgic atmosphere, with plain metal tables, old wooden stools, and a hand-painted signboard that make you feel like the place hasn’t changed since the 40’s. It feels like a Taiwanese version of the classic American soda shop.
With over 70 flavours, Snow King’s ice cream menu looks like a restaurant menu. It has everything, including some very special one-of-a-kind options – they even offer savory ice creams with flavours such as braised pig’s foot and sesame chicken! The menu is divided into categories: nuts, “nourishing” (made with medicinal plants), fruits, liquors, vegetables, “beautifying” (made with ingredients purported to improve complexion), herbs, teas, and savories. According to staff, they use mostly local ingredients – very little is imported.
Snow King is thoughtful enough to provide an English menu. Of all the ice creams, there are about a dozen dairy-free options. If you want to order a dairy-free ice cream, just ask the staff to show you the “dairy-free” list. However, the only completely vegan option is “Sunkist” (a sorbet made with local oranges). So far I’ve tried: peanut, red bean, green bean, jasmine tea, ginger, coconut, taro, chili pepper, and Thai basil flavours. The red and green bean flavours are really good, full of natural beany flavour and textured with little bits of bean. Taro is one of the most popular choices. It’s particularly mild, with minimal sugar – really nice. To be honest I didn’t think much of their peanut ice cream – I like a strong peanut flavour, but I found Snow King’s peanut ice cream rather bland, not as rich as the one from He Mei Ice Treat House. Coconut is pretty good, with a really creamy texture and a nice coconut flavour. The ginger ice cream is especially good, with a strong, spicy kick of fresh ginger – very refreshing.
The Thai basil ice cream, at $100 NT/scoop, is one of the shop’s top-selling signature flavours. It’s also a very rare and unique flavour! I’ve tried many of Snow King’s ice creams, but so far I think this one is my favourite. The basil is very assertive and natural-tasting, just like fresh-picked basil leaves. Because Thai basil virtually never appears in sweets, eating this ice cream may remind you of Vietnamese pho, Thai stirfries, Taiwanese basil crepes, and other basil-flavoured savory dishes – it’s a bit of a challenge for the taste buds! To balance the relatively strong taste of the basil, this ice cream is a little on the sweeter side.
The texture is dense, smooth and creamy – not a hint of ice granules.
Roselle ice cream, $90/scoop, dairy-free. This is an awesome ice cream! It tastes clearly of tart roselle flowers. The ingredients are all perfectly adjusted to emphasize rather than cover up the flower’s subtle flavour. It’s also textured with bits of roselle bud. The owner said they use premium local roselle flowers from Taitung. You can really taste the freshness and attention to detail in this ice cream – highly recommended!
Black plum ice cream, $90 NT/scoop, dairy-free. The flavour is ok, not super heavy or sweet, but the special tart smoky taste of black plums is not really detectable. The defining characteristic of this ice cream is its super-smooth texture.
Snow King specializes in traditional style and careful hand-crafting methods, putting the emphasis on the ice cream rather than on the decor and presentation. The whole operation is very simple and understated. The ice creams are placed casually in the display case, not sculpted into an ice cream gallery like most modern ice cream shops – utilitarian, not aesthetic. They don’t even appear to label the flavours – I don’t know how the staff can tell them apart when they go to scoop ice cream for customers!
Although Snow King is very famous, I’ve never had to line up here in any of the countless times I’ve come. There are always seats available, so I can sit down and eat my ice cream slowly while enjoying the shop’s old-school atmosphere.
Snow King | 雪王冰淇淋
Address：No. 65, Wuchang Street Sec. 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
MRT: Ximen Station, Exit 5