It’s not really ice cream season yet, but it’ll be hot as hell before you know it—and Vampire Penguin is just about to open up in the Mark, at 155 Hickory Street, right by I Heart Mac and Cheese. The Sacramento-based franchise appears to be hitting our area of the country pretty hard right now, with locations newly open or about to be in Aiken, North Augusta, Lexington and Columbia, SC as well as Grovetown and Evans, GA. Rather than a New Orleans-style snoball or a classic snocone, its product is more akin to Japanese kakigōri. Years ago, we had a location of Atlanta’s SunO downtown, on Broad Street, serving something similar: big blocks of flavored ice shaved into a fluffy mound of snow, then topped with fruit, sugary stuff and syrup. The result is light and delicious, less candy-colored and sugary than most shave ice but with the texture of Hokulia‘s product.
Vampire Penguin’s presentation is pretty sundae-like, and it includes options like cotton candy and birthday cake that are probably pretty tooth-twingeingly sweet, but also mangonada, a translation of the Mexican treat that combines fresh mango with spices and hot sauce. Standard snow choices include green tea, coconut, honeydew, Thai tea and mango. Toppings could involve boba, Oreos, condensed milk, lychee jelly, jackfruit, marshmallows and more. The base is mostly non-dairy, depending on the flavor, meaning it can be vegan.
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