It’s true – the thing you search hardest for is often right under your nose. My quest for Taiwan’s best handmade ice cream has taken me to crosstown neighbourhoods like Songshan, remote parts of New Taipei City like Shiding, and even other cities (such as Kenting and Tainan). But one of the cutest, friendliest and tastiest handmade ice cream shops I’ve found so far has been hiding in the night market across the street from my house all along: Juan Bing Wu soft-serve ice cream. (Yonghe has another secret ice cream spot, too: the super funky, old-school Taiwanese-style He Mei Ice Treat House!)
我經過了捲冰屋和它閃著發光冰淇淋型的燈無數次才終於去吃吃看。我一直架設夜市只買得到那種高聳的巨巨無霸，像淡水河邊觀光區賣得超好的那種(份量那麼大但價位卻那麼便宜，可以堆得那麼高但不會融化，我都不敢吃，這樣的冰淇淋到底是甚麼做出來的呢?). 結果是，捲冰屋本來跟一般夜市冰淇淋販賣不一樣嘍! 本超可愛的小攤子專門是販售現做現賣的、優質當地食材做的手工優格霜淇淋和鮮奶霜淇淋。另外，它也是台灣少數獨立手工優格霜淇淋店之一，台灣多半優格霜淇淋店都是販國際連鎖店，賣的是工廠做的、無特色的優格霜淇淋，所以超愛吃優格的我，很興奮找到這家新鮮優格霜淇淋店!
I walked past Juan Bing Wu and its giant glowing ice cream cone dozens of times before finally giving it a try. I always assumed that the only ice cream you could get at night markets were those towering foot-long ice cream spears that are so popular in Danshui (that stuff scares me – the portion is so huge and the price is so cheap, what the hell is it made out of, anyway?). But it turns out Juan Bing Wu is not a typical night-market ice cream vendor! This adorable little stall specializes in handmade frozen yogurt and soft-serve made with quality local ingredients. It’s also one of the only independent places I’ve found with hand-made frozen yogurt – nearly all the fro-yo shops in Taiwan are international chains offering identical, factory-produced yogurts. I was really excited to discover this special, fresh fro-yo!
Juan Bing Wu offers only two flavours per day, which you can order individually or mixed. Their ice creams and yogurts are made fresh daily with seasonal ingredients. Fresh fruit flavours dominate from spring through fall. During the winter months, when the fruit selection is limited, they make more tea- and nut-flavoured ice creams. Today’s flavours were black tea latte soft-serve ice cream and passionfruit-yuzu frozen yogurt. Their teas and fruits are all grown in Taiwan!
Juan Bing Wu also sells these extra-crusty pineapple buns. Can’t decide between pineapple buns and ice cream? No problem, just order the house specialty – the pineapple bun ice cream sandwich!
The owners are generous with the samples, offering little cups of fresh-poured ice cream to passersby. I sampled both flavours first before deciding. The black tea latte soft-serve tasted exactly like a classic milk tea from Coco or 50 Tea – no surprises here. It was refreshingly light and milky; sweet but not cloying. The texture was a little on the soft side and it seemed to be less fatty than commercial soft-serve and didn’t leave me with that oily, butter-smeared feeling I get from the stuff at 7-11 or Family Mart. But it also melted very quickly in the evening heat. When I tried the delicious frozen yogurt, though, my decision was easy!
Passionfruit-yuzu frozen yogurt, $65 NT/cup. I was tempted by the idea of a pineapple bun fro-yo sandwich, but that sounded like way too much for one person, so I just ordered the cup. Even this was a huge portion, though – and about half the price of other specialty soft-serve shops!
Juan Bing Wu’s frozen yogurt is super thick and rich, much denser and more substantial than the flimsy ice cream. It reminded me of Greek yogurt. Look at how smoothly it scoops in the picture above – the texture is incredibly silky! The tangy passionfruit and citrus flavours were identifiable, but not especially strong – the natural yogurt flavour and fruit flavour were pretty much equal strength. I thought that was nice, actually – I love the taste of plain frozen yogurt, and I liked that it wasn’t completely covered up by the fruit. I would have preferred a fresh fruit garnish over the dry biscuits, though.
I’ve never had soft-serve in Taiwan that wasn’t hollow in the middle, and Juan Bing Wu is no exception, but you can see that the hollow space is fairly small. Even with the empty space, the portion is still well above average – definitely the most inexpensive hand-made soft-serve I’ve had in Taipei so far! The dense yogurt is quite filling – I felt totally stuffed after finishing the whole cup myself, and I didn’t miss the extra mouthful or two of hollow space in the middle.
Juan Bing Wu is just a little street stall, so it doesn’t have a fixed address, but I took a picture of the nearest street sign. They’re in the same spot every day, sandwiched in between a few clothing vendors in front of No. 38 Yongping Road, just 100 metres or so inside the eastern entrance to the night market. Look for the glowing ice cream cone – you can’t miss it!
Juan Bing Wu | 捲冰屋
Address: near No. 38 Yongping Road, Yonghe District, New Taipei City
MRT: Dingxi Station (about a 10-minute walk south of the station)
Hours: Daily, 17:30~00:00 (hours are subject to change without notice)