One of Sacramento's coolest dessert outlets in recent years has been Vampire Penguin, the absurdly named "shaved snow" purveyor owned by brothers Leo and Paolo Angelo San Luis. Unlike Hawaiian shaved ice, which has syrup poured on top, their "snow" is inspired by Taiwanese shave ice. It starts with an ice-cream like frozen treat, made with non-dairy cream, sugar, fruit, and fruit concentrate, that's frozen in cylindrical molds; the resulting snow blocks are then placed in a special machine that shaves them into tiny ribbons, creating a dessert that's richer than ice cream and richer than standard shaved ice. Condensed milk, candy, and fruit can then be layered on top, in combinations like strawberry cheesecake or Twix. As an added bonus, much of the menu is vegan-friendly. Vampire Penguin has been a big hit in Sacramento since debuting last Halloween, and the San Luis brothers are now targeting Berkeley.
According to Berkeleyside Nosh, franchisee Anthony Bai is looking to open the Bay Area's first Vampire Penguin in a former party supply store in Berkeley (2575 Telegraph). The 2,500-square-foot shop has been cleared by Berkeley's zoning board, and if everything goes as planned, should open in December. The San Luises are also plotting a new Sacramento location, as well as one in Davis.