New York City’s dessert of the summer is actually centuries old. Kakigori, or Japanese shaved ice, dates back to the 11th century, when nobles would eat it as a way to cool down. What makes Japan’s style unique from its Asian shaved-ice siblings (Korean patbingsu and Taiwanese paobing, for example) is its delicate, unfussy style—the thin sheets of ice are usually layered with made-from-scratch syrups and fresh fruit.
“Kakigori isn’t over the top,” says Eddie Zheng, co-owner of The Little One. So don’t expect Technicolored sprinkles, sugary cereals or even mochi. “In Japan, they’re very ingredient-focused. They use the best fruits. It’s very simple.”
Today, you don’t have to be a royal to enjoy the refreshing treat—you just need to know where to look.