Korean shaved ice cafe sinks sweet standards

Taylor Gonzales/Courier A neon sign inside Milkie and Snowie in Pasadena on Friday, April 14, 2017.

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Pasadena’s food scene continues to expand its diversity with Milkie and Snowie, the first dessert shop to introduce the city to Korean shaved ice: bingsoo. Since its opening back in November 2016, Milkie and Snowie managed to surpass other Pasadena cafes that have been around for years on Yelp, and is currently the #1 Dessert Place in Pasadena.

Taylor Gonzales/Courier
The patio at Milkie and Snowie in Pasadena on Friday, April 14, 2017.

My sweet tooth wanted to challenge their title, since I’ve tried over half the dessert stores all over Pasadena. Two factors I take into consideration when critiquing dessert are its uniqueness and price. I want to eat something I can’t experience anywhere else, otherwise, I would go to that “anywhere else,” and I want to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth for something I can only experience at that cafe.

First, I was beyond confused when I entered this place into Google Maps, and the pinpoint landed on 85 Degrees. As delicious as that place is, that’s not exactly where I wanted to go..

After frantically pacing Fair Oaks Avenue a couple of times while continuously staring at Google Maps, the photographer who I was accompanied with found a narrow alley between Zabon Ramen Bar and Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, and our instincts followed the path. After making some sharp turns, passing by dull-colored buildings and walls, I thought I was loss until I finally made the left turn of glory, and found the shop.

Milkie and Snowie is right behind 85 Degrees, so it can not be seen if you’re walking along a sidewalk. I’m guessing there wasn’t much room left to squeeze them into plain sight. That’s when I wondered, how could the best dessert place in Pasadena earn its prestigious foodie title when it’s this hard to find?

Walking in, the shop was clean, and the interior design was modern. The theme of the shop was minimalist, yet chic. While most of the store was black, spherical lanterns that hung from the incomplete ceiling, along with the glass windows sandwiching the door, were enough to brighten the store.

After I was informed that the most popular bingsoos sold were Oreo and strawberry, I opted for Oreo. Excitingly, I looked at the menu to see what this bingsoo would be topped with, and I saw a strikethrough on “almonds.”  Darn, one less topping for me to enjoy, especially because I absolutely loved almonds. It probably would’ve given a layer of saltiness and crunch in the bingsoo, so I worried that the bingsoo would be too sweet.

I was also told by their cashier that their coffee machine was broken, and that they were not serving coffee all day. I was looking forward to having an iced coffee wash down the shaved ice and Oreos, especially since it was a perfect 75 degrees that day, so this was a bummer to me, and probably a potential bummer for incoming customers.

Taylor Gonzales/Courier The interior at Milkie and Snowie in Pasadena on Friday, April 14, 2017.

My bingsoo came in about three minutes and I was excited with how quickly it came. The snow mountain was on a bowl, surrounded by mochi and Oreo halves. The ice was heavily dusted with Oreo crumbs, and the mountain’s height was elevated with a generous scoop of Fosselman’s vanilla ice cream, a whole Oreo standing atop, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. On the side was a small cup of condensed milk, but in case my bingsoo still wasn’t sweet enough, there was an extra bottle of condensed milk provided for customers to refill.

I’ve never seen snow, and for someone who whines like a child when the weather is under 70 degrees, I don’t think I’ll be seeing it anytime soon. Based on what those who have seen snow tell me what it’s like, this is probably the closest experience I’ll get for now– and no, I didn’t whine like a child!

For every aspect of the dessert I thought would be overwhelming, I was completely wrong. The shaved ice was flaky and soft, and it melted in my mouth after every spoonful. Also, I thought the cookie dustings and toppings would be way too much sugar on top of more sugar, and even regretted drizzling the bingsoo with condensed milk. However, they all gave new layers of flavor and texture that were much needed.

The shaved ice was split between the photographer and I, and the serving size was perfect for two. Neither of us felt overwhelmingly full, but full enough once we were done.

Taylor Gonzales/Courier
A bowl of shaved ice covered in oreo crumbs, chocolate syrup, and mochi served at Milkie and Snowie in Pasadena on Friday, April 14, 2017.

The only fallback was the price. I paid $10.85 for a bowl of shaved ice, Oreos, mochi, and chocolate syrup. Given that I already have an ice shaver, I can buy those ingredients for less and make something similar of my own. I wish there were more toppings to compensate for the price, because about halfway through devouring, I was left with just ice, some melted ice cream, and crumbled cookie dust. I didn’t order a drink and opted for the complementary lemon water, but since specialty drinks averaged to $2-4, I would’ve almost paid over $15 for a simple drink and bowl of shaved ice.

So, the #1 dessert place in Pasadena involved me making extra twists and turns into a random alley so I could pay over $10 for ice, Oreos, some mochi, and a scoop of ice cream? I know several dessert shops would also charge an absurd amount of money for something so simple yet so photogenic (which this was). I’m still on the lookout for a shop that can offer a cheaper deal while still being unique. So, Milkie and Snowie to me did not live up to its title earned by Yelp!
Rate: 4.5 out of 5 snowflakes

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