If you've ever been to Asia in the summer, you know that every time you step outside you have to be prepared to melt under the steaming hot sun. And the only real way to cool down during the hot summer months, is with shaved ice! But did you know that every country does things a little differently? With a simple base like frozen water, these three famous cafe's have taken their flavors to the next level.

Japan - Himitsudo

Mars Hovasse

For the past few years, Himitsudo has been one of the most popular shaved ice spots in Japan due to its unique atmosphere and fluffy dessert. Located in a little hide-away on the corner of an old street about 30 minutes out of Tokyo, people from all around flock to Himitsudo in the summer to cool down with a refreshing and "healthy" dessert.

Each order is hand-spun with a traditional handle-operated machine, so every spoonful is full of fluffy, paper-thin slices of ice. Every day, a few flavors on their menu change but their most popular flavors, such as Ichigo Milk (strawberry milk), are available all summer long. You can even control how sweet you want your shaved ice, as they serve most of the syrups on the side to keep things fresh and simple.

You can expect fruity flavors like Grapefruit, Pineapple, and Strawberry, as well as more traditional Japanese flavors like Red Bean Matcha and Hojicha, so you'll always find exactly what you're looking for-- but make sure to get there early, because later in the day, lines form so long they have to rope parts of the street off!

Korea - Sulbing

Mars Hovasse

Much different from the homey vibes of Himitsudo in Japan, Sulbing is an extremely popular cafe located all around Seoul. If you're looking to find a cute date spot, a little cafe to hang with friends, or even if you're searching for some alone time to cool off from the blazing summer sun, Sulbing is the place to go.

Most Sulbing's have a modern and chic interior and a lot of items on their menu, but what they're most known for, is their shaved ice. Their menu consists of very elaborate shaved ice flavors, with toppings that play around with the intersection of Western and Asian desserts. Unlike the simplistic and natural flavors you can find at Himitsudo, Sulbing takes a modern twist on old favorites by incorporating toppings such as sweet potato, cheese, and black sesame.

After trying the entire menu (I'm 100% serious), my personal favorite has to be the Oreo Choco Monster. Different from Japanese shaved ice, I would describe Korean shaved ice to have a much more detailed texture, and as they like to describe, the texture of "snowflakes." They're also adorned with a mountain of toppings and have the same flavors buried beneath the layers of snow, so each bite is always packed with a punch.

Taiwan - Smoothie House

Mars Hovasse

When I visited Taiwan, the first place my friends took me was the Smoothie House. Famous for their mango flavored desserts, their best seller is the Super Mango Snowflake Shaved Ice, topped with mango, mango, mango, and did I mention mango?

Unique to Taiwanese shaved ice, they actually incorporate flavors into the ice itself! So in their Super Mango Snowflake Shaved Ice, not only were there chunks of fresh mango, mango syrup, and mango sorbet on top, but the shaved ice was even flavored with mango juice. Even though it sounds like mango and sweetness overload, the flavors were surprisingly super fresh and not overly sweet, making it a great summer treat.

I found that the consistency was much more similar to the soft sheets of Japanese shaved ice, but the taste was strong just like the crazy flavors they offer at Sulbing.

So What Did I Learn?

Other than that I have a huge shaved ice addiction, I learned that every country has their own unique take on shaved ice...and it's pretty crazy to see how different places spice up a simple base like frozen water! Himitsudo in Japan likes to keep things simple, whereas Sulbing in Korea mixes up new and old school flavors into a more powdery shaved ice. And Taiwan, well, Taiwan taught me the more the better with their over-the-top mango flavored shaved ice from the Smoothie House.