Location: Theater District (West 44th Street and 8th Avenue)
What We Ordered: Banana Pudding
Times Square -- home to the Naked Cowboy, the New Year's Eve Ball drop, Dave & Buster's, and now Wooly's Shaved Snow. Located in City Kitchen, a new food hall featuring some of the city's best artisanal food vendors including Dough, Luke's Lobster, and Kuro Obi (an Ippudo-owned ramen stand), this is Wooly's first non-pop-up store in the city. It's not the traditional ice cream and gelato we typically review, but after receiving a tip from one of our readers, we had to check it out.
We visited City Kitchen on the day of their grand opening. After trying out some ramen from Kuro Obi and fries from Whitmans, it was time to move on to dessert. The owner and founder of Wooly's was behind the counter on this day and we asked him for his favorite flavor. Without hesitation he started putting together a cup of Banana Pudding shaved snow for us.
For those who are unfamiliar with shaved snow, it has a unique texture that differentiates itself from shaved ice. It is much lighter and airier, like eating a cloud of sweetened condensed milk. The Banana Pudding packed quite a punch of flavor -- we could tell why it was the owner's favorite.
Covered with an array of toppings including graham cracker crumble, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and popular Asian snack Pocky, Wooly's gets props for originality and variety. We appreciated how large the serving portion was and yet we felt like we could still eat another after we finished. Like the Miller Lite slogan, it had great taste and was not filling.
On this day Wooly's was offering three regular flavors and one special (Banana Pudding). The flavor variety is sparse, but there are plenty of toppings and finishes to choose from to dress up your snow including childhood cereal favorites like Fruity Pebbles and Captain Crunch. Wooly's offers Matcha Green Tea flavored shaved snow and toppings like Mochi and Pocky Sticks, showing their Taiwanese roots. While we would like to have more flavor options to choose from, we are eager to go back and see what specials they will have next.
City Kitchen is essentially a mini-Smorgasburg in the middle of Times Square so you can expect it to get a little crowded. Finding seating for two was a bit of a mission, but after circling the tables a few times we were able to find a cozy table to share with a family of Brazilian tourists. One upside to this intimate setup is you can make friends very quickly -- exchanging opinions on what the best vendor is and why the donuts are impossibly big. By the time we finished our shaved snow, four people around us were inspired to get a cup of their own just by looking at our concoction. There's much to be said for great presentation.
Even though we had to make the dreaded trek to Times Square on a snowy winter day, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Wooly's. From the friendly staff to the Pocky toppings to the smiling glowing cloud on the counter, we've discovered that there is a place in our cold ice cream hearts for shaved snow. Wooly's, along with the bevy of other delicious vendors at City Kitchen, has given us a reason to go to Times Square, which may be the ultimate compliment one can give.