Up until the afternoon of Feb. 23, I was living a naive, simple existence. It was then that I lifted a life-altering spoonful of fluffy ice into my mouth not knowing what to expect when it hit my tongue. Nothing turned into something, an experience similar to cotton candy, and I slipped into a nirvana. In the bowl, the ice was arranged in jagged peaks and valleys, a cold landscape boasting an assortment of colors. Mochi, chocolate drizzle and strawberries among other condiments littered its slopes and add to the palette of complementary flavors. A mix between frozen yogurt, ice cream and snow, Sno-Zen’s dessert ice, a traditional Japanese street food, was light but flavorful, satisfying yet not guilt-inducing.
Located in Mountain View, this family owned business is located in a residential area removed from the hustle and bustle of busy downtown areas. One corner is home to a TV that plays Netflix, and a stool nearby is host to cards and board games.
Jennypher Doan and Teague Ho, a married couple, founded the business with the help of their family members Tom Ho, Mary Nguyen and Thien Ho, who work with them and assist when things get too busy. Their location attracts people from all demographics, creating a welcoming atmosphere.
“We have people from all different backgrounds coming to enjoy our snow,” Doan says. “We knew that shaved snow has universal appeal [and] it really is something that everyone can enjoy.”
Palo Alto High School students have begun to flock there to satiate their cold dessert cravings.
“We wanted to try the shaved snow,” senior Aashli Budhiraja, who frequently documents her Sno-Zen expeditions via Snapchat and Instagram, says. “I go, like, once a week.”
In contrast to ice cream or frozen yogurt, which are mainly creamy, the snow breaks apart in flakes then melts into a sweet swirl of flavors in your mouth.
Shaving the snow allows for the absorption of syrup by the ice, making for a more flavorful, light and gourmet experience. The flavor infused in the ice is complemented by syrups, enhancing the experience. The result is delicious, and keeps customers returning for more.