Bold statement: This was probably one of the most unique and fascinating desserts I’ve ever had. Ok, tone set.
I saw this place called Vampire Penguin, next to Blue Oaks Century Theaters in Rocklin, a while back and my usual curiosity had me drive close to it to see what it was. Looked like some sort of dessert spot so I added it to a list of possible places to visit. They are apparently a small Sacramento-area chain, with 5 of their 9 locations here locally. The others are in San Mateo, Berkley, Eureka and Reno. Today I decided I’d go grab some dinner at Prime Wok and hop over to Vampire Penguin for dessert.
I arrived just after 6PM and the place was kind of busy. The dining room was about 75% full. I don’t have a photo of that to show you unfortunately since I hate pointing my camera at strangers, but it was very clean, bright white with metal chairs and modern-looking. There was no line so I headed up to the counter and was greeted immediately. I told her that I’d never been so I needed a moment to look at the menu.
She pointed out their most popular item, the Strawberry Cheesecake (Strawberry & Vanilla shaved snow w/ crushed graham crackers, strawberries, raspberries, white chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, and condensed milk), and a couple of her favorites – the Dulce De Leche (Vanilla snow, sliced bananas, drizzled in caramel sauce, whipped cream and flan) and the S’moreos (Cookies & Cream shaved snow, crushed graham crackers, oreos, marshmallows, and chocolate syrup). Not being entirely sure, I asked “so is all of this like shave ice?” She corrected me, saying it is shaved “snow”, Vietnamese style, having a texture more like snow.
I ordered the S’moreos in a small for $5 (large is $7. Prices vary slightly between the flavors, and you can build your own as well). They must have had a small rush before I arrived, because about 3 or 4 orders came out before mine, so it took a little while, maybe up to 15 minutes max).
It was gorgeous. This small size was about 4 inches high. The snow was chocolate colored throughout, different from shave ice apparently since it was very uniform, rather than a flavor syrup working it’s way in from the outside. I was extremely skeptical about the claim that shaved snow was different from shave ice, but the moment I tried to scoop a spoonful out of the side I knew this was something very different. My first impression was “wow, this is dense.” I thought maybe there was something else mixed in that I hit with the plastic spoon, impeding it’s movement.
When I took my first bite, I was stunned at the texture. It was dry! Actually no, that’s not an entirely accurate description. It was not wet. Ha, I know it sounds like the same thing, but I swear it’s a better description, you’ll have to try it out and see what I mean. When I think back at all the shave ice I’ve ever had, I would definitely describe that as cold and snowy, but also wet. This is indeed very different. I think they must keep their ice significantly colder than normal blocks of ice used in the Hawaiian-style shave ice. By the time I was at my last bite it had not melted one bit. The plate helped since it was clearly kept in a freezer prior to preparation.
While it was incredibly dense, it was also strangely soft and snowy in texture. The chocolate flavoring of the snow was delicious, as was the chocolate syrup, crushed graham crackers and oreos. The marshmallows were good as well and a little chewier due to how cold they had become. I thoroughly loved every single bite of this thing and I can’t wait to come back. This is a place that I expect to take visitors in town to, which I think is one of the highest forms of praise I can give a place. I cannot recommend this enough.
A customer next to me had ordered a large Strawberry Cheesecake and let me take a snap of it: