The other day I ventured further into the oven by traveling east to Rowland Heights. It was 110 degrees out and hellishly dry. My friend Julie and I were driving around blasting on the A/C and trying to decide what to have for a snack. It felt too hot to ingest heated foods so she suggested SinBaLa, a popular Taiwanese restaurant where they have shaved ice desserts, not to be confused with Hawaiian shaved ice. Rather, the Taiwanese version is similar to halo halo, the Filipino dessert which is a heap of shaved ice doused in condensed milk and sugar, and covered by a variety of sweet beans and fruits. It sounded like the perfect antidote to the heat.
But when we got to the restaurant, it was already packed with like-minded people clogging the doorway and taking up seats. Since the door kept opening and closing with more and more diners packing into the small space, the air conditioner was ineffective and the outside heat seeped in making the restaurant unbearably stuffy. I stood amid the sweaty mass of would-be diners, furiously fanning myself with a menu and just dripping with sweat.
Fortunately we didn’t have to wait too long for a seat as we were fine with sitting at the counter. The wait person came by and filled up two small styrofoam cups of iced water for us. Naturally, I downed that in one gulp and was really annoyed that the dude didn’t instantly refill it. I guess I’m spoiled by the large glasses of iced water I usually get at restaurants.
Julie and I decided to split a shaved ice dessert since, looking around at the heaping plates on the other tables, it seemed like too much for one person. For $3.95 we were allowed to choose five different ingredients. Taro balls, almond tofu, coconut jelly, green beans and condensed milk were our instant picks with a bonus helping of grass jelly that we didn’t ask for.
As soon as the glass plate hit the table, we were digging in, hacking away at the mountain of crunchy ice with our plastic spoons and shoveling this chilly concoction into our mouths. It was a good call on all those ingredients and totally reminded me of my mom’s halo halo, minus the purple ube stuff. My faves were the taro balls which Julie described as “sweet gnocchi” and the coconut jelly. I wasn’t crazy about the grass jelly which tasted perfume-y.
Before we knew it, we had reduced the iceberg into a small pool of water and milk. Sated and having effectively lowered our core temperatures, we felt prepared enough to brave the heat once again. Unfortunately, as soon as we stepped outside into the oven, that feeling of relief instantly evaporated. Too. Hot. Am. Melting.
18489 Colima Road
Rowland Heights, California 91748