Recently our friends introduced us to Nu Ice at Nu Café (thanks Susan and Craig!). Nu Ice, also called Snowflake Ice and Ribbon Ice, is a Taiwanese frozen treat. It’s not ice cream, although it does contain a small amount of milk (for the lactose intolerant out there). Somewhere in the back of my brain I recall something called ice milk from my youth, which is how I might describe Nu Ice. The website says that “Nu Snowflake Ice has the consistency of ice cream, the deep rich taste of gelato, and melts in your mouth like snow. There are no preservatives and just 100% natural taste.”
Nu Café has two locations — one in Chinatown at 9889 Bellaire Blvd, and the one we visited near the Galleria at 5901 Westheimer. Between the karaoke bar and the Mongolian Hot Pot restaurant in the same shopping center, the Galleria location is hopping at night.
Note the fancy chandeliers — classy!
Although Nu Cafe also offers smoothies, slushies, cream-topped ice coffees, “Marco Polos” and other specialty drinks, it’s the Nu Ice that makes this place worth a visit.
First decide if you want a Mountain or Hill of Nu Ice. The Mountain, which comes with 2 toppings and a drizzle, is easily enough for two people (so is the Hill, for that matter, although it only comes with 1 topping). Next pick your flavor. We’ve tried the coffee, strawberry, and coconut, all of which I can recommend, although I REALLY loved the coconut. Perhaps the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which toppings to pick. In addition to Oreos, M&Ms, and the usual suspects, there’s a variety of jellies, poppers (tapioca pearls), and fresh fruits that go particularly well with the Nu Ice. I especially like the coffee jelly. Last but not least, pick a drizzle — chocolate and condensed milk are popular.
Hand your order form to the young man behind the counter and watch the fun. The Nu Ice is shaved from a large cylinder of frozen ice, which they will tell you takes 10 hours to prepare. (The ice shaving machine comes from Taiwan, in case you were wondering):
In just a minute, you’ll be handed a mound of delicate ribbons of shaved ice:
Seriously, isn’t this amazing? It looks like a Dresden lace figurine:
Dresden lace figurines
Nu Ice (coffee with chocolate drizzle)
As an added bonus, you don’t really need to wear your stretchy pants to enjoy Nu Ice, as it’s lighter and less filling than ice cream or frozen yogurt (which also have a special place in my heart). Nu Ice is sweet and cold and fun and delicious, and I expect as the weather warms we’ll be making more than one trip to Nu Cafe.