Cloud 9 Snow Ice (photo by Joseph Storch)
It's not exactly Hawaiian shave ice, and it's a little more minimalist than Korean bingsu, but the wide ribbons of frozen, flavored ice coming out of the machines at Cloud 9 are certainly unlike anything Chicago has seen before. Xue hua bing is the latest frozen, icy treat to hit the city, and the key seems to be the custom freezer they imported from Taiwan. It achieves the proper texture, especially when freezing large amounts of mango or strawberry-flavored powder, water and milk. Poured into what looks like an oversized, metal tiffin, the mixture freezes solid, allowing them to place the circular hunks into a powerful shaving machine. The resulting shaved ice resembles wide ribbons of fabric, but tastes like the freshest snow in January. You can top it off with some syrups or other candy-esque toppings, but don't bother. This frozen treat doesn't need a supporting cast.
If you want to see how they make it, check out the video here today after 11:30 a.m.