By Christopher Yee
The biggest misconception about shaved ice is that it’s the exact same as a snow cone, which is essentially chopped ice.
The second biggest misconception is that it’s always as delicate and light as new-fallen snow.
Fluff Ice, nestled just inside of the new Atlantic Times Square in Monterey Park, defies both of the above stereotypes with creations that are both distinctly theirs and, more importantly, a treat for the taste buds.
Fluff comes out of the shaver in ribbons of ice, but the ribbons easily crumble at the touch of a spoon.
Regardless of description, the end result is combined with toppings and sweetened condensed milk to make a light, refreshing delight that’s made to be shared.
The experience completely transcends the Hawaiian and Taiwanese shaved ice served widely across the San Gabriel Valley in that they offer several flavors of ice.
The operation looks and sounds enough like a Pinkberry to inspire people to start choosing their own combinations of flavored fluff and toppings.
However, eager diners would be best served by placing their trust in the combinations put together and taste-tested by the staff.
Matthew Hui, one of the four partners behind Fluff Ice, explained that since the employees know the ingredients so well, they know best how to put it all together for a tasty result.
“At those other places, you kind of have that ‘shoot yourself’ mentality where it’s your fault if it comes out bad. Trust us—we’ll get you where you want to go,” said Hui.
The Original Fluff, the signature menu item, is a heaping pile of fluff, a generous amount of condensed milk drizzled on top, sliced strawberries and mangoes on top of that and another drizzle of condensed milk to top it all off.
Seeing one of the friendly staff members complete this
process is proof positive that care has been taken to make the sweet treat taste as good as it can be, and it does taste good.
The fluff takes on the sweet and tart of the fruit and the decadent richness of the sweetened condensed milk to create a confection that’s lighter yet more flavorful than ice cream, sorbet or any comparable dessert.
Top it off with boba, the tiny balls of tapioca that are usually found in drinks, to add an additional dimension of texture that round out the experience.
Much like the Original, the
Mango Fluff is simple sounding in composition—mango-flavored ice, mango slices and sweetened condensed milk—but it keeps customers coming back for more according to Hui.
The reason is likely because of the amount of fresh-mango flavor that comes not just from the fruit but also from the ice.
“We use fresh, seasonal ingredients in everything we make—toppings and ice. We want the best flavor, so when a fruit is out of season, we’ll rotate it out. We’re not going to use frozen stuff,” said Hui.
Fluff Ice also offers strawberry, green tea, chocolate and, for now, strawberry-kiwi fluff flavors and a variety of “boba place” beverages.
In fashion with the rest of the Atlantic Times Square, Fluff Ice has a modern feel to attract the teen and young adult crowd.
A simple color palate of blue, green and white gives a bright, energetic feel, and a couch, comfy stools and bench seating encourage customers to make themselves at home to enjoy their fluff.
“We see this as a place for friends to hang out and share a snack,” said Hui.
The only drawbacks that students might find are the prices. A regular serving size costs $5.50, but since it’s big enough to be shared, diners can share, making the price affordable.
“If you’re out for a date, this is the perfect place,” said Hui as he smiled and gestured to the couches and benches.