|New Ice Monster Location|
Ice Monster (http://www.ice-monster.com.tw/),
1F No. 297, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Taipei City 106, Taiwan; 02-8771-3092
Smoothie House (http://www.smoothie.com.tw/), 15 Yong Kang St. and 9 Yong Kang St. 臺北市大安區永康街9號1樓
Situated in the popular Yong Kang night market and shopping area, the original Ice Monster in Taiwan was founded by Mr. Frank Lo in 1995. The Ice-Monster has since relocated earlier this year to a new location at: 1F No. 297, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Taipei City 106, Taiwan just one half block from the Sun Yat-Sen MRT Station. The Ice Monster is a very special place to enjoy one of Taiwan’s favorite and refreshing deserts…… the “Mango Icy”. It's new location is a cool, trendy and modern atmosphere that is a great place to hang out and enjoy their new and traditional menu of fruit delights.
I first tried this wonderful desert in 2003 at the original 15 Yong Kang location. After they moved, there has been two “Mango Icy” companies at this address and the current is known as the Smoothie House. There is a second larger location very close by at 9 Yong Kang Street.
Since 2003 a number of these type stores have opened in the San Jose and Northern California area in various Asian neighborhoods and popular shopping areas. Mango Icy’s have spread throughout Asia to the utter delight of millions of people. This week I tried a Mango Icy from both the Smoothie House and the new Ice Monster location and I will tell you more about my visits later in this blog.
I love mangos, but mangos are not all created equal. In the US, most come from Mexico, Chile and South America, but they are also grown in Florida, Spain and many other countries that have frost free climates year round . In Asian supermarkets you can also get mangos from Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and other Southeast Asia countries.
There are over 1000 varieties of mangos worldwide. The mango tree varieties can grow from 30 ft. tall up to 100 ft. or more, and produce a wealth of fruit for almost 40 years.
From my personal experience, Asian Mangos by far are the best and sweetest tasting for the most part, but in the right season, Taiwan mangos are right near the top as the first choice of mango lovers. Wikipedia states that mangos represent almost 50% of all the produced tropical fruits worldwide at almost 80 billion pounds of mangos (2010-2011).
|Purple Mango from Israel - Courtesy of Wikipedia|
|Yellow Mango from India - Courtesy of Wikipedia|
|Ripe Green Mangos from Philippines - Courtesy of Wikipedia|
Mango fruits come in a variety of colors when fully ripe. They can be green, yellow, yellow-orange, red, red-green, orange-red and even red-purple and purple-green from Israel. I am not an expert by any means, but I have noticed that ripeness can be determined by three things: softness of the fruit, sweet smell from the fruit, and a small amount of nectar being released from the stem area of this fruit. Be careful, if you let the mango get over ripened, it will turn the fruit inside brown.
|Ripe Red Mango with Large Seed - Courtesy of Wikipedia|
When ripe, I either peal the fruit and slice it around the large oblong seed, similar to cutting wedges from a peach with the pit. Others slice the mango on both sides of the long flat pit/seed and with the skin still on they cut a cross hatch pattern and eat the cubes with a spoon or by mouth.
|Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia|
Want a warm summer refreshing drink? Try a fresh mango milk shake. Just cut up fresh mangos in your blender, and milk, crushed ice and blend it until creamy smooth. Very Yummy! You can also experiment and add other fruits inside such as pineapple, strawberry, etc., but don’t use too much or other fruits can overpower the sweet taste and nectar of the mango.
I had tasted mangos in the mid-West US when I was younger, but most all of them were stringy, somewhat sour or bland and hard. These obviously were not ripe or good quality. I first started traveling on business to Asia in around 1995 and on one of my first trips I first tried durian, the “fruit of the gods” that “tastes like heaven but smells like hell”. To this day, I do not enjoy eating durian.
|Durian Fruit - Courtesy of Wikipedia|
More about durian in a future blog.
Nevertheless, on that same trip, we tried some fresh, super sweet mango slices for dessert in a Clarke Quay restaurant in downtown Singapore. After tasting it, I was hooked on mangos, but I could not believe they were mangos…..not possible. But I was assured that in the right season Southeast Asia mangos are some of the best in the world. Well, during that week, I had mangos every day and every way including: fresh sliced, mango cake, mango pie, mango ice cream, mango on top of my breakfast cereal….. yes, I became crazy about mangos any way and every day if possible.
|Courtesy of Wikipedia|
The next week I was in Taiwan on business and I was telling my business associate about my “Mango Madness”. After dinner, we went to a local night market and he bought me a bag a small to medium size, bright yellow mangos from Taiwan. It was the peak of the mango season at that time. He also managed to buy me a small bowl, a knife, and I took my prize mangos to my hotel room. Before going to bed, I could not wait so I pealed this sweet juicy mango and it was simply wonderful. Now these mangos were truly “necture of the gods” and I was in paradise. Yes, I was a bad boy and ate three more before going to sleep…..Sweet Mango Dreams.
|Ripe Taiwanese Yellow Mangos|
Well in 2003 time frame while again in Taiwan, we were walking in this shopping district and the streets were crowded. People were everywhere. And there before my eyes was this small corner food stand with people pushing to get in line or to find a place to eat their Mango Icy. The pictures below were taken this week in October 2012, and they have upgraded their food store, and people still wait in lines for the best Mango Icy in Taiwan.
So for my American readers that are still wondering what a Mango Icy is, let me tell you the simplicity of this desert. Let me assure you that you will never believe how truly good this is until you try one yourself!
|Mango Icy from Smoothie House|
|Smoothie House Icon|
|New Ice Monster Location|
|My ice Monster Mango Icy ...... Just before I devoured all of it !|
Start with the best mangos diced in cubes and small slices and let them soak in their own juices. Next, you need finely shaved ice. Some stores grind up their ice but it is chunky and sub par. The Ice Monster has modern ice shaving machines that takes a large round block of ice or a sweetened flavored block of ice and shaves it paper thin. The shaved ice is almost powder like and melts in your mouth.
|Ice Monster Ice shaving machine|
Fill a bowl or cup with ice and then add a small amount of sweet/condensed milk, thick mango juice, and let it soak into the shaved ice. Add a scoop of mango ice cream, and then smother the top with the sweet diced mangos and serve. Now some places make it a little different, but this is how I have made it at home with my own shaved ice machine.
When you take your spoon and scoop up the ice, mangos, and that sweet milky mango juice, you have a cool and refreshing desert that is an explosion of flavor in every bite!
The Smoothie House has a great product. The mangos were sweet and ripe and the flavored toppings made it truly enjoyable. The serving was quite generous, and one happy customer tried to sit down and eat his Mango Icy, but several people in line rushed over and wanted to take pictures. I think I will try the Smoothie House again when I am that Taipei neighborhood.
The Ice Monster has hit a home run. When we sat down, a few people in tables next to me couldn’t wait to tell me how much they love their product. Their menu is below, and sorry for the picture quality:
The mango's were superb, soft, sweet and delicious. The scoop of mango ice cream with mango syrup on top was simply awesome!
|Our order with the small icy (Icy on the bottom and Mango Ice Cream on top)|
Their servings are even more generous, and one Mango icy is big enough for two to share!
Both offer other delightful varieties of kiwi and strawberries individually and in combinations with the super sweet mangos on top. Ice Monster also offers other deserts for those that do NOT have the “Mango Madness” cravings such as the taro and red bean avalanche.
|Shaving Flavored Sweet Ice for Avalanche|
This blogger suggests you try them both and compare for yourself.