After a long day of lounging on Tumon Bay's sandy shores, take a quick detour into downtown Tumon, where you'll find not one but two new snow shops, serving up both refined and wacky treats.
If you ever wanted your own tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory but never found the golden ticket, now's your chance: Snow Monster, located across the street from Tumon Sands Plaza, is about as close as you can get.
When you first walk into the shop, lit by hundreds of fairy lights, you might see clouds of liquid nitrogen evaporating into the air or a small 3D printer softly whirring in the corner of the shop, right next to a blast freezer that chills nitrogen-infused ice cream to a crisp -38 degrees Fahrenheit.
The shop's menu is ever-changing, says co-owner Chris Masterenko, who runs the shop with his 20-year-old daughter, Arielle Masterenko, as the pair seek to create the most Instagram-worthy bites on island.
The current favorites are Dragon's Breath – liquid nitrogen is poured over vibrantly-hued cereal to make it look as though you're breathing fire as you chomp away – and the Cotton Candy Burrito, which rolls three scoops of ice cream and lots of sweet toppings into a cloud of cotton candy. It's a sugar overload that borders on dangerous – yet the combination of cotton candy, gummy bears and Cookie Monster ice cream works surprisingly well (though might be best shared) and is nothing short of a 10-year-old's dream.
'Whatever the wave is bringing'
Both Masterenkos say social media is an essential ingredient in their success, saying they wanted to bring trendy desserts to Guam before the trends passed.
"We hunt Youtube, we hunt Snapchat, we hunt Instagram," Chris Masterenko says. "We're not married to our flavors or to any concept. We're going to change whatever the wave is bringing."
"Our Dragon's Breath has become viral," he adds.
Chris Masterenko, who previously taught at University of Guam and has a background in IT, takes on the role of a 21st-century Willy Wonka as he pairs his desserts with technology. Arielle, meanwhile, mans their busy social media pages.
Since opening its doors in March, the shop has already outgrown two 1-gallon ice cream makers and has upgraded to a 5-gallon machine, which churns out an average of 25 gallons each day. The ice cream is made from scratch right in the shop's kitchen, Chris Masterenko notes – the only homemade ice cream available on island.
The shop also offers made-to-order treats, including cakes, cookies, cake pops and brownies. Chris Masterenko says a customer could even request a custom ice cream flavor and the shop will make it happen.
Have a crazy dessert idea of your own? Chris Masterenko encourages other sugar afficionados to reach out through their social media channels. Who knows? It could just be Guam's next viral treat.
Korea's favorite summer treat
Head across the street and a few blocks south and you'll find Snowberry tucked beneath Jamaican Grill.
The quiet shop offers a unique take on frozen treats, riffing on Korea's ubiquitous desert, patbingsu, or Korean shaved ice.
Surprisingly, there is no ice in Snowberry owner Steven Hur's frozen creations, which are actually milk-based. The result is a cold and refreshing bowl of perfectly flavored snow as light and fluffy as freshly fallen powder, dotted with crunchy corn flakes.
Hur uses a special machine to make the snow, and that's all he would give away about the secret behind his desserts. After lots of trial and error, Hur landed on 15 flavors, including a juicy mango flavor, green tea (perfect for matcha lovers) and even cheese. Each bowl comes with a dusting of toppings such as fresh fruit, chopped nuts and chewy mochi – sweet bits of rice cake mixed with soybean powder.
The result is a subtly sweet dessert that explodes with texture. Once you start eating, you probably won't be able to stop. That's why it's best to order the Triple Joy, a three-bowl sampler with bowls that offer ample portions.
"It's hard to explain," Hur says of his snowy desserts, "but once you come here, you like it."
It's "different from shaved ice, (it's) different from ice cream," he says.
Something unique for the island
Snowberry, too, is a family affair: Hur, who came to Guam by way of South Korea and Los Angeles, used to visit his sister on Guam. He says he always thought the island needed a place like Snowberry. Now, Hur and his sister run the shop together.
"Weather is hot, so I always consider making something dessert," Hur says. "Iced dessert or something frozen dessert. Then I find the snow machine."
Hur says he wanted to offer something unique to Guam, and something he felt he could excel at.
"So ice cream? No. I cannot make ice cream like Häagen-Dazs from Europe. Europe and ice cream (have) a long history, so I cannot compare to them," he says. "I just wanna make a dessert Asian people like ... not too sweet. ... It's a very healthy dessert."
Although Snowberry has been open only eight months, Hur already has plans to expand his menu. He says he hopes to add a mochi bar – picture a sushi bar, but with rolls of mochi instead of raw fish. He wants to feature seasonal items, too.
"My idea works," he says. "Something special ... something snow. It's rather perfect."