After months of construction and permit wrangling (for which Berkeley is notorious), Vampire Penguin has debuted their popular "shaved snow" shop on Telegraph Ave.
Inspired by Taiwanese shaved ice, the shaved snow at Vampire Penguin is more robust than your typical "snow cone" situation. Rather than use basic shaved ice made from water that is then topped with syrup, Vampire Penguin's treats are created from a fruit base, frozen in cylindrical molds and shaved into tiny, fluffy ribbons. Snow options include flavors like strawberry, coconut, mango, taro and green tea, which are then topped with a variety of fresh fruit, candy, nuts or syrups like condensed milk. Special combinations are available, like a strawberry cheesecake concoction made with strawberry and vanilla snow, graham cracker crumbs, fresh strawberries, condensed milk and strawberry syrup. (Check out the rest of their icy treats here.)
While this is the first concept in the Bay Area, the concept originated in Sacramento, from local owners Leo and Paolo Angelo San Luis. It has now spread rapidly throughout the region, with stores in Sacramento, Davis, Elk Grove and Berkeley and more planned in San Mateo and Reno. As for the confounding name, franchisee Anthony Bai has a simple explanation: "Penguins are cute, and they love snow. Plus, vampires are cool." Whether or not a vampire-penguin is an enticing mascot, the Berkeley location enjoys a plum spot at the edge of Cal's campus, as well as the advantage of sunny East Bay weather. However, it remains to be seen whether they'll be able to recreate the infamous lines that form at cookie sandwich chain CREAM, located just a few blocks away.
Stop by the grand opening on Sunday, July 5 from 12 p.m.- 8 p.m. And, if you like Vampire Penguin Berkeley on Facebook or Instagram, receive a free small shaved ice in celebration. Hours are Sunday-Thursday from 12 p.m.- 8 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 12 p.m.- 9 p.m.