Mr. Bing Brings Shaved Ice Cream to Miami

With froyo, snow cones, and soft serve, it’s hard to believe there’s more to be done in the frozen-treat category. But Mr. Bing’s technicolor truck is rolling into town with an ice-cream concept unlike any other.

The creamy, paper-thin ribbons are shaved off a huge cylindrical block at superhigh speeds, creating what owner Ryan Barouh calls “shaved ice cream.” Customers have described its consistency as frozen cotton candy and compared its appearance to a carnation flower.

Barouh discovered the Taiwanese treat during a trip to visit his girlfriend's family in her California hometown, and he instantly recognized the business potential in the dessert.

“I thought, Wow, this is really cool. How come I’ve never tried this? I wish we had something like this in Miami,” he says.

With a professional background in hedge funds and real estate, Barouh is a self-proclaimed “finance guy” with no culinary experience. He says the challenge was completely out of his comfort zone, and he approached the idea from a purely business perspective. He quickly realized that to maximize profits, he’d need to create the product himself.

So he contacted the manufacturer of the specially designed machine and flew to Taiwan to learn how to operate it.

“I learned from the people who originated the dessert — it’s been in their family for generations,” Barouh says. “I basically took the concept of what I learned over there and tried to mainstream it into more of an ice-cream-like texture.”

This mainstreaming took months of trial-and-error with both the recipe and the operation of the machine. Barouh made batch after batch, striving to perfect the product.

“What I was shooting for was to have something similar to the consistency of Dippin’ Dots, but paper-thin,” he says. “I said to myself, If you can taste ice with it when you bite down on it... even if you feel, like, that crunchiness of the ice, then it’s not right.

In addition to creating the unique texture, Barouh says, he also tweaked the flavors of the traditional Taiwanese dessert, adapting them for more “American and Latin American” palates. Options such as coconut and green tea are an homage to the treat's Asian roots, while flavors such as chocolate and original sweet milk reflect Barouh's local spin.

A dish of Mr. Bing is delicious, stunning, and contains less than 100 calories per 3.5-ounce serving. According to Barouh, people want to try something new in the ice-cream category, and this frozen treat is what the Miami food scene has been missing.

Even though abandoning his stable career was a huge risk, Barouh is not looking back.

“My biggest reward is when I see people’s faces light up when they try it, because it’s like an experience that they’ve never felt before,” he says. “So when I see people’s reactions and everything, even though I’m making a lot less money than I ever used to, I’m getting a reward that I’ve never felt before.”

You can find Mr. Bing at local events, including South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Grand Tasting Village this weekend. The truck will also be in Coconut Grove at 3433 Main Hwy. from 5 to 10 p.m. this Friday and at Flagler Arts & Technology Village Artwalk in Fort Lauderdale from 6 to 10 p.m. this Saturday. Follow the truck at 

Barouh is operating Mr. Bing out of a commercial kitchen in Opa-locka but hopes to expand to franchised brick-and-mortar storefronts and distribution to big-name stores.
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