(image: Courtesy of Merely)
These home-grown dessert parlours prove that there’s more to ice cream than just 31 flavours.
Given Singapore’s hot weather, it’s no surprise that there’s a glut of shops serving up ice cream to customers who just want to chill out with a sweet treat. Serving up classic, local- and fusion-flavoured creations, are these 9 innovative boutiques upgrading this humble frozen confection to SG’s de riguer dessert of choice.
(image: Courtesy of Tom’s Palette)
Tom’s Palette, which was started 12 years ago by Chronos Chan and his wife Eunice Soon, has always been focused on researching to create flavours using unconventional dessert ingredients. Ever since the creation of their Salted Egg Yolk Ice Cream (inspired by the Liu Sha Bao, a steamed bun with a runny salted egg yoke custard filling) 6 years ago, they have been challenging themselves to push the boundaries.
Each ice cream flavour (from $4 for a single scoop) is designed to evoke all senses, bringing together aroma, flavour, and texture. So far, they have stirred people’s imagination with amazing flavours such as Parmesan Cheese and Cream Crackers, and White Chocolate Nori (seaweed) and a luscious Vegan Peanut Butter flavour.
Believe it or not, there’s also a seasonal nasi lemak (Malay fragrant rice dish) version. Calling it his most challenging flavour to date, Chronos shares that the ice cream base is made with glutinous rice infused with lemongrass, coconut and pandan leaf, which replicates the rice flavour. The mix-in contains powdered ikan billis (anchovies), skin-on peanuts, white chocolate, laksa leaf or Vietnamese coriander, and chilli flakes, much like the real nasi lemak.
At first bite, the pandan and coconut aroma greets you, then comes the sweet, creamy ice cream with the lovely crunch of peanuts and ikan bilis, followed by a lightly spicy finish, totally capturing the essence of the beloved rice dish in every mouthful. It’s a pity that this seems to be out only during Hari Raya Puasa (the celebratory period after the Islamic month of fasting)!
(image: Courtesy of Butterknife Folk)
This cosy little shop located along River Valley Road specializes in small batch artisanal gelato and sorbets that are absolute flavour bombs (from $5 for a single scoop). The extensive range of gelato spans from good old classics, such as vanilla and strawberry (this comes in 6 variations), to the bold and quirky, such as nostalgic Root Beer Float and funky Roquefort Bleu that is made with blue cheese, honeyed pear and a speculoos swirl.
Co-owners Jack Chan and Ingrid Lim draw their inspiration from anything and everything around them. It could be something they tasted during their travels, like the vegan Cocomatcha flavor that came from a coconut and matcha cake they tried in Japan. Or, it could be collaborations with other brands that sparked fireworks – like the awesome Brewlander beer flavour and the Singapore Breakfast flavour that features soya sauce (from a local soy sauce producer), eggs and toast in the gelato that they presented at the Funk’d: A Fermentation Festival – Asia’s 1st Fermentation Festival – held earlier in May. They also offer a mix of vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free or gluten-free options so that everybody can enjoy their gelato. And when the season is right, they whip up a creamy, rich Mao Shan Wang gelato that is pure durian bliss.
(image: Courtesy of Merely Ice Cream)
At Merely, located at Sunshine Plaza and also Our Tampines Hub, it is all about making ice cream as tasty and flavourful as possible (from $3.50 for a single scoop). Co-founder Tham Ying Wai shares that natural, quality food ingredients are used in each handcrafted batch of ice cream and most of their ice cream creations contain mix-ins, either in the form of chunks of ingredients or sauce swirls. These mix-ins provide the additional oomph of flavour for his delightful ice creams.
Think Oreo Milk flavour with Oreo cookie chunks and cream cheese mixed into the base. Or, the new Ondeh Ondeh (rice cake balls) flavour that has an ice cream base made with pandan leaves-infused milk and mashed sweet potato, then mixed with gula melaka (palm sugar) caramel sauce, toasted desiccated coconut and gula melaka shavings for that smokey caramel boost.
Merely is also known for quirky and bold flavours. There’s a supposed Hokkaido-style ramen (Japanese noodles) inspired Miso Mamee flavour (white miso or Japanese soya bean and salt paste, sweet corn and topped with caramelized Mamee noodles – Mamee is a Malaysian crunchy noodle snack, FYI). Then, there’s a potato chip and popcorn flavour (the base was made with potato-chip infused milk and the churned ice cream was topped with a house-made pop corn) that was done previously.
The latest whacky flavour is a Shoyu Seaweed Caramel creation to celebrate its recent 6th year anniversary. It has a base of milk and sashimi shoyu sauce (Japanese soy sauce brewed to be best paired with sashimi or raw fish) and is topped off with seaweed for a touch of umami (savoury taste). And guess what? The sweet, creamy, lightly savoury and umami ice cream actually comes together well! Otherwise, there is always the best-selling Salted Butterscotch flavour that was launched in 2013. This flavour alone, currently accounts for about a third of its sales.
(image: Courtesy of Creamier)
Creamier first opened in Toa Payoh in 2011, a stone’s throw away from the estate’s renowned bustling wet market and hawker centres, serving lovely ice creams handcrafted in small batches (from $3.60 for a single scoop) and barista-pulled coffees. Seven years on, Creamier now has 3 outlets (Gillman Barracks opened in 2016 and Tiong Bahru, in 2017) and continues the good work of churning out well-made ice creams using quality ingredients.
Its ice creams capture the essence of the flavours and are lusciously creamy, with a good body and a smooth texture. The best selling flavour of all time is the Sea Salt Gula Melaka, its take on salted caramel with an Asian twist that’s made with palm sugar sourced from Malaysia and hand-harvested sea salt from England. The Roasted Pistachio ice cream is rich with the savoury-sweet nuttiness of Italian pistachios, and the Thai Milk Tea ice cream – made from a premium Ceylon tea brew and sweet cream – is fragrant and milky as the beverage itself.
The latest addition to the repertoire is the Speculoos Cookie Butter ice cream, made with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, as well as crushed Speculoos cookies, that’s made to be paired with its freshly made crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside golden waffles.
(image: Xie Huiqun)
Chocoholics rejoice! The Dark Gallery (its first outlet is in Millenia Walk) has recently launched a full-fledged 40-seater café and chocolate boutique with more homemade chocolate-centric creations at Takashimaya Shopping Centre. Aside from its gorgeous dark and velvety Single Origin Dark Chocolate drink, and decadent Signature Dark Chocolate Sliced Cake with dark chocolate buttercream layered with dark chocolate sponge cake, the range of ice creams are not to be missed – especially its exquisite selection of homemade chocolate ice creams (from $5 for a single scoop).
The Single Origin Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Platter is a good choice that allows you to try three types of single origin chocolate ice creams. Try the intense yet slightly fruity 75% dark chocolate from Tanzania, the bittersweet 70% dark chocolate from Costa Rica, and the aromatic and milder 64% dark chocolate from Madagascar – they make for chocolate heaven!
(image: Courtesy of Apiary)
Apiary, which will turn 2 this September, is a pretty little ice cream shop decked in light wood located at Neil Road. The milky and velvety smooth ice creams here are made from scratch and flavours are calibrated to the right intensity and balance that allows the ingredients to shine through.
Highlights include its Ferraro Rocher flavour and Sicilian Pistachio ice creams, which are hits not only with locals but Italian customers as well (the pistachios used here are costly, as the shop does not compromise on the quality of the ingredients). Other unusual flavours include the luxe Summer Black Truffle, a mildly spicy Pink Peppercorn, and Blue Milk, a best seller that sees the use of blue pea flower and sea salt. Make time to head here and some these love ice cream flavours coupled with its signature waffles (they come in charcoal or plain) or yummy brownies.
(image: Courtesy of Birds of Paradise)
This dreamy little gelato boutique housed in a shophouse along East Coast Road is celebrated for its all-natural handmade gelato (from $4.70 for a single scoop). Helmed by engineer-turned-gelato maker Edwin Lim, the takeaway concept serves botanical-inspired flavours that are light on the palette and refreshing.
Purity of flavour is what Edwin looks for, and you can taste it in the floral White Chrysanthemum gelato with crunchy cocoa nibs, the fruity and slightly herby Strawberry and Basil, and the deliciously fragrant Pandan. Also, the boutique’s thyme-infused waffle cone, is painstakingly handmade in-store, which qualifies this as a must-try.
(image: Courtesy of Udders)
For ice creams that packs a punch of flavour, and booze, Udders is the place to go. This home-grown ice cream enterprise turns 11 this year and remains a firm favourite with ice cream lovers (from $4 for a single scoop). And what makes the chain’s ice cream so good? Balance apparently; they go through 20 to 30 versions of each flavour during the creative process to perfect the desired depth of natural flavour and mouth-feel, and to fine-tune the nuances.
Best-selling flavours would include Mao Shan Wang Durian and Champion Chendol (chendol is a green rice flour jelly). And don’t forget their “adults only” ice creams with intoxicating liqueur flavours such as Rum Rum Raisin (3.9% alcohol), Tira-miss-u (Tiramisu, 3.8% alcohol using brandy), Baileys & Bourbon (3.3% alcohol), Lychee Martini (3% using vodka). They are so potent that all of Udders’ five shops need a liquor license to sell them, and you would have to be 18 years old and above in order to make a purchase.
Just to clue you in, in the works is a healthy range of ice creams made with natural ingredients (free from artificial colouring and flavourings) and with a lower calorie, fat and sugar content, all to be launched under a new sister brand very soon.
(image: Courtesy of Non Entrée Desserts)
Tucked away at the end of Rangoon Road, this dessert café (the name literally translates to “No Main Course”) serves an array of instagram-worthy desserts and pastries in a casual setting. This 3-year-old café is known for the Chocolate Avalanche, a chocolate lava cake made with premium Valrhona dark chocolate, sitting atop an Almond Nougatine and Orange-infused vanilla ice cream, and local-inspired desserts such as a giant ondeh ondeh (boiled rice cake balls) that has pandan mousse and gula melaka (palm sugar) centre in a chocolate shell with desiccated coconut.
Its yummy gelato (from $4.80 for a single scoop) is also worth a look. Available in a myriad of classic and local-inspired flavours that includes White Rabbit Candy (based on a popular milk candy of the same name), Pineapple Tart, and a delightfully intense Nanyang Coffee flavour that comes with a burnt butter flavour.
By Xie Huiqun, July 9, 2018.
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