Welcome to the 2018 edition of The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
10: The Purple Fusion at Snoh Ice Shavery
It's hard to imagine a summer in metro Phoenix without Snoh Ice Shavery. How did we survive the long sweltering days without the occasional cup of baobing, the popular Chinese and Taiwanese shaved ice that melts on the tongue like cotton candy?
The frozen dessert has long been popular in mainland China and Taiwanese night markets. It became a fixture in southern California Asian sweets shops about a decade ago. Tony Chanthavong, noting the dearth of Asian-inspired shaved ice in metro Phoenix, opened Snoh Ice Shavery in central Phoenix in 2013. The shop celebrated its fifth anniversary this month. In 2016, a second location opened in downtown Phoenix.
Snoh's take on shaved ice is creative, playful, and beautifully textured. The light, creamy milk fluff is made with fresh flavors like taro, acai, honeydew, mango, pistachio, strawberry, and chocolate. You can build your own Snoh cup, picking out your choice of ice flavor and fresh, Asian-inspired toppings like lychee, grass jelly, or mochi balls. You can also turn up the sweetness and crunch with sugary breakfast cereal toppings like Fruity Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
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Or you can cut out the mental work altogether and order one of Snoh's signature combo bowls. Might I recommend the Purple Fusion? It's a solid dessert featuring nutty, lavender-colored taro shaved ice, some almond pudding, and a handful of softly crumbled almond cookies. A light drizzle of condensed milk adds another layer of creaminess. You scrape the first spoonful of smooth, feathery milk fluff and feel it dissolve easily on your tongue. It feels refined, delicately sweet, and most importantly, it cools you down.
Snoh Ice Shavery has been instrumental in kick-starting metro Phoenix's Asian-inspired desserts and drinks scene (iced and milk teas are also made at the shop). These cool, refreshing Chinese and Taiwanese desserts are a natural fit for hot, bone-dry Phoenix. A Snoh bowl from Snoh Ice Shavery won't make the summer any shorter, but it will make it a little cooler.
Snoh Ice Shavery, 914 East Camelback Road, #4B, 602-888-4063. Sunday through Thursday noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 10 p.m.
801 North Second Street, 602-358-7177. Sunday through Thursday noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 10 p.m.
The Essentials So Far:
50: Soul food platter at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles
49: The Bear at Short Leash Hot Dogs + Rollover Doughnuts
48: Grilled squid and other specialties at Andreoli Italian Grocer
47: I-10 Nachos at Cocina 10
46: Coffee made from ROC2 beans
45: The Haturo Sub Sandwich at Cheese 'n Stuff
44: Zookz at Zookz
43: Jade Red Chicken at Chino Bandido
42: Tasting menu at Quiessence at The Farm
41: Single-origin Papua New Guinea Bar at Zak's Chocolate
40: Green chile at Casa Reynoso
39: Brûlée burger from Paradise Valley Burger Company
38: Hand-pulled noodles from China Magic Noodle House
37: Carne adovada sliders at Dick's Hideaway
36: Crispy Pig Ear and Amaro cocktails from Crudo
35: Chile-laced specialties from Cafe Ga Hyang
34: Martinis at AZ88
33: Nooner at Duck & Decanter
32: Eggs Maximilian at Harlow's Cafe
31: Beef Tacos from Asadero Norte De Sonora
30: Orange Blossom from Huss Brewing Company
29: Rye bread from Yasha From Russia
28: Scotch Beef and Mashed Potatoes from Tarbell's
27: Griddled Corn Cakes and Ramona Farms Super Food Salad at Phoenix City Grille
26: Soup from Reathrey Sekong
25: Lamb tongue sandwich at Haji Baba
24: The Special at Grand Avenue Pizza Company
23: Red chile at Elmer's Tacos
22: Marranitos at La Purisima Bakery
21: Kronuts from Karl's Bakery
20: Beef pies at Chou's Kitchen
19: Bavarian pretzels & schnitzel at Haus Murphy's
18: Red chili burro and sopapillas from Los Dos Molinos
17: Camelback Soda at The Sugar Bowl
16: Brisket Sandwich at Chelsea's Kitchen
15: Taco Hazz from Ta'Carbon
14: Barnone at Agritopia
13: The Jazzy from Emerson Fry Bread
12: Flour Tortillas from La Sonorense Tortilla Factory
11: Peach picking at Schnepf Farms
10: The Purple Fusion at Snoh Shaved Ice