Looking back on 2018 as the year is coming to a fast end, there have been a plethora of uniquely idiosyncratic food trends that have debuted in the food scene this past year. However, perhaps one of the most unusual sounding ones that has been recently concocted is "spicy ice." 

What Actually Is "Spicy Ice"?

"Spicy Ice," as shown in the bottom left-hand corner of the above photo, more formally known as "iced Sichuan water pickles," is an untraditional Chinese appetizer. As its colloquial name suggests, the dish is composed of crushed ice cubes marinated in spices, specifically smoked habanero, caraway, and hibiscus. Spicy ice was inspired by the staple Korean side-dish, Kimchi, which is typically composed of marinated Napa cabbage, radish, and hibiscus fermented in water and salt brine, dressed in pickling liquid, scallions, garlic, ginger, chili powder, and other seasonings, which can vary from recipe to recipe. Spicy ice is essentially an eclectic and unparalleled "interpretation of water kimchi."

Where Can You Find Spicy Ice?

Spicy ice was concocted by chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food, which helps to explain why the frozen water appetizer costs a whopping $8. For those bold enough to crave this dish, it can be found exclusively at Bowien's New-York-City-based Mission Chinese Food restaurants in Soho and Brooklyn. Perhaps the dish will soon be unveiled at the San Francisco location shortly as well, but only time will tell if West Coast foodies will be able to get their hands on Bowien's one-of-a-kind "pickle" dish.

Is Spicy Ice Even Tasty?

Not surprisingly, there has been a great deal of debate surrounding restaurant diners' opinion on Bowien's dish. One Twitter user, as evidenced above, explained that she was "without words" when describing the dish. In fact, this food correspondent went on an entire threaded rant about spicy ice. Other consumers seem to feel a similar passion for this controversial appetizer. One food critic said that he initially did not know what the dish was and then "about two-thirds of the way through the meal" was unimpressed when he realized "this is just a bowl of ice." Another Twitter user was also confused by the dish's exact nature, explaining she ordered it by accident "thinking it was going to be actual pickles" when in reality, she described it as "a spicy snow cone" that ruined her day. 

Despite the multitude of seemingly strong opinions regarding Bowien's $8 Sichuan spiced icy pickle, the unconventional, baffling nature of the dish will undoubtedly pique the interest of foodies around the world. Not everyone will have the experience of living in or traveling to New York in the future, but lucky enough, spicy ice can be easily (and more cheaply) recreated in the very comfort of your home. If you enjoy traditional Asian flavors and have a palate for spicy food, it may be worthwhile to get your hands on spicy ice, whether it's from Mission Chinese Food itself or from your very own freezer!