It’s still summer for a few precious weeks, so take advantage of the chance to experience LA’s coolest new craze: shave ice. While it might bring to mind the sticky-sweet snow cones of your youth, Brian’s Shave Ice, a Hawaiian-influenced spot on the Sawtelle Corridor, elevates the frigid treat to an art form, with fluffy textures and flavors that really zing. Not only are these ices delicious, they’re gorgeous to look at. It’s like you’re holding a rainbow in your hands–a delicious rainbow, with an ice cream core. Your family clearly deserves to try it out, so round them up and head to this tiny tropical haven where icy refreshment is just a shave away.
Brian’s serves the most authentic shave ice–yes, Hawaiians call it “shave ice” rather than “shaved ice”–in town. The decor, with vibrant blues and oranges, projects a joyful, Polynesian vibe. Whirring sounds from the ice-shaving machines meld with the pop tunes in the loudspeaker, and a decal on the bamboo counter reminds you to “Keep Calm and Have a Dole Whip.”
What’s a Dole Whip? It’s like a pineapple soft-serve/whipped cream hybrid, and it’s one of your shave-ice filling options. You could also choose a core of ice cream, or of Japanese-style treats like adzuki beans or mochi balls, but you choose to follow the decal’s directive. Then you pick from a long list of ice flavors: Tropical fruits dominate the menu, but you can also experiment with flavors like root beer or mai tai. You aim for a combo of strawberry, banana, and blue Hawaiian. Lastly, you pick a topping. For first-timers, nothing crowns a mountain of fluffy flavored ice like a Snowcap (sweetened condensed milk), but you promise yourself that next time you’ll try the Ghirardelli chocolate.
Once you all have your ices–large for you, kiddie-sized for the kiddies–gather around one of the shiny chrome cafe tables and take a bite. Light-as-air ice melts in your mouth, and the condensed milk gives the natural flavors a rich creaminess. Just when you think it can’t get any better, you reach the tangy, sweet pineapple Dole Whip in the center. When you look up and see your kids waggling their blue tongues and cracking each other up, you know you’ve reached the end of the rainbow.