17 Degrees Café is the motherlode of delightful and instagrammable desserts.
First of all, the Asian dessert scene in Vancouver is outstanding: it only gets more inventive, creative, and impressive as time goes on. Dessert shops that serve ice cream, waffles, bubble tea, coffee, and pastries are sprinkled around Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond. The street of Kingsway alone is home to many social media famous dessert places like Off the Grid Waffles, TMix Tea & Dessert Bar, and today’s food review, 17 Degrees Café.
I visited 17 Degrees Café on a Friday night. For a store famous for its grandiose towering desserts of shaved ice and fruit creations and light bulb-shaped drinks, its setting is modest. The regular-looking shop, with warm walls and small potted plants, is situated along Kingsway (near Nanaimo Street). It wasn’t busy at all, and the hostess patiently waited for us to place our order.
17 Degrees Café is a Chinese-owned dessert shop that serves a variety of bubble tea (fresh fruit and milk tea) and soda, which come in light bulb-shaped glasses (some that light up). They also serve a variety of “icy bowls,” think shaved ice with condensed milk, fresh fruit, tapioca pearls, and scoops of ice cream.
I ordered a Honey Lemon Soda in a light bulb glass. Their Passion Fruit, Lemon Honey, Kiwi, and Red Pomegranate flavour (both in bubble tea and soda drink form) come in light bulbs that actually light up in vibrant colours. I also ordered their colossal Oreo Shaved Ice.
The Honey Lemon Soda was delicious. I don’t even like honey lemon soda and I’m still thinking about how good that beverage was. It was lightly carbonated, sweet, icy, and refreshing. Most importantly, it was a pulsing purple colour! There is a little raving light built into the bottom of the cup, on the outside. This bright effect is, of course, a novelty, but it’s a lot of fun. The light never goes out so you can take pictures as long as you like. For $3.99, it is definitely worth it.
The Oreo Shaved Ice is essentially a massive tower of finely shaved milky ice, covered in a light dusting of Oreo crumbs, topped with a mint leaf. Like 720 Sweets Etc., it arrives with dry ice underneath it, giving it a subtle smoking effect that makes the dessert even more camera-friendly.
It is served on a platter with a two little saucers of condensed milk and creamy Oreo ice cream. It comes with two adorable floral-decorated spoons.
At first, the shaved ice was shockingly cold in my mouth! And it was so fine, like little snowflakes that melt instantly on your tongue in the winter. As I dug my way through the shaved ice with the tiny spoon, the giant mountain soon revealed a crusted Oreo centre with actual Oreo filling and graham cracker crust at the bottom! So no, you’re not just eating ice the entire time. Each tiny, icy, melting bite was exciting, refreshing and delicious.
At $10.99, the Oreo Shaved Ice actually takes awhile to finish and is a great dessert to share on a date or with friends. In many ways, it tastes like ice cream but a lot lighter. I can only imagine how wonderful it tastes in the summer.
This was probably one of the best desserts I’ve had in Vancouver yet. It has more theatrics than anything else I’ve tried, it’s larger, the taste is more interesting and it’s like a scavenger hunt to eat! It truly gets better with every bite.
The Shaved Oreo Ice is a very well thought out dessert. The type of dessert one would call art, and a masterpiece that needs blueprints drawn out beforehand.
As you can tell, 17 Degrees Café captivated me with their presentation, taste, price, portion, and ambience. I only scored their ambience down because they were playing a strange playlist of songs that jumped from soft K-POP to old-school T-Swift to Christmas carols.
17 Degrees Café’s desserts are a bright idea and good to eat any time of year and temperature (puns intended).
Karolina is a Vancouver-based writer. You can catch her thinking about her next meal and grooving to house music, often at the same time.