We live in a time where culinary understatement is hip. Higher prices for smaller plates and micro-everything. And so, perhaps the most important thing I can say about the Guppy Tea House is that their “shave ice” is unconquerably enormous. It is uncommon that two six foot tall, two hundred pound teenagers are unable to finish anything, and this shaved ice had probably close to two pounds left by the time we were full. It was a miserably hot day, and all around us in the expansive restaurant were teams of four or five hunched over their fast melting tubs of condensed milk and fruit.
The tea house has a long menu with Taiwanese and Korean dishes, but their clear claim to fame is the shaved ice lurking at the back.The ice is offered with condensed milk for sweetness and flavoring, which gives it an ice cream-like flavor but without the richness that comes with milk. The toppings are fairly standard, with fruit like strawberries and mango, as well as standbys like boba or grass jelly. Again, what they lack in creativity at the Guppy Tea House, they make up for with sheer mass, and that philosophy translates over to the toppings. By the time the ice has turned to soup at the bottom of the dish, you’ll never want to see another strawberry or taste another boba.
When we visited, the Guppy Tea House was home to every age group. Groups of teenagers speared crispy chicken and leaned over the table to suck at boba teas, while across from them grandparents stirred aromatic and spicy pork broth, waiting for the impending mass of fine flakes of ice to be hauled out by the tiny waitress. A large part of the meal was obviously spectacle, and I’m sure I don’t want to know what the large size looks like—the small was more than enough. While I can’t say the quality was anything stellar or unique, the Guppy Tea House is worth the trip even to look in the window, past the potted plants and neon, at the mountain of creamy, cold shaved ice.
Shaved ice to-go cup, $5.99; small (dine-in only), $12.25; large (dine-in only), $18.99.