Roll ’em up, take a lick: Thai rolled ice cream is legal high

No, it isn’t a mind-altering chemical, but, mood elevating? Yaaaasss. 

Wiki Commons Rolled Ice Cream

I’m speaking the sort of high ones derives when she sees, say, a hella-inspiring movie or gets swept up in a favorite band’s live performance or loses herself in a piece of art … or discovers a downright exquisite edible (again, not speaking of anything laced with a drug — though I allow, hypothetically, it is feasible that certain forms of intoxicants could enhance the experience; the intensity might be unbearable, thus I do not recommend or condone any such thing).

Enter rolled ice cream, AKA stir-fried ice cream, hand made to order. Street vendors in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and the Philippines can whomp up a serving—about five rolls of densely furled frozen cream in two minutes or so. I’d guess the ladies at Chills 360 in Deep Ellum worked about as fast.

I’m clearly a late-comer to the sweet sensation sweeping the nation by way of Asia. I know this because in 2016 Forbes published a piece about this “cool dessert trend packing them in.”

“Ice cream prep staff pour a cup of flavored milk-based liquid on to an extremely cold metal circle that looks like a big pizza pan (some places use dry ice to chill it,  others run coolant underneath that plunges the temperature well below zero).

As the base freezes, it’s manipulated with little paddles, like kneading bread, and then spread out across the big circle. Once the ice cream evenly covers the circle, the prep staff pushes a spatula across it and turns strips of it into rolls.” —Forbes

I hurried along Elm after a show, attempting unsuccessfully to dodge the droves in need of a few bucks, glanced inside as I passed the place, screeched to a halt, slowly backed up. I wasn’t even sure what I was seeing—there appeared hibachi-esque happenings behind a counter (sub hot grill with frozen slab, and sharp knives with spatulas) and, on a menu board, I saw “matcha” and “strawberry” and “fudge” and “frozen.”

Looney Tunes

And though I didn’t really smell anything significant, I was like one Looney Tunes character transfixed by visible fumes that have the ability to lift and transport toward delicious foods.

At first blush, the young woman at the counter seemed irritated. Was it closing time? Was I behaving like an idiot? Ordered straight off the menu, didn’t ask a bunch of questions … still, she was terse, unsmiling. But I don’t need small talk or even friendly, provided the person is competent at her given task, as she proved to be.

About five minutes post paying $7 plus a $1 tip (which, considering a cone of fro yo without garnishes, or certain Starbucks drinks, cost as much, is not all that bad) I had, in hand, a beautiful green, intensely flavorful, substantial tub of tubular ice cream topped with fresh strawberries and chocolate sauce.

There aren’t many rolled ice cream shops in Dallas proper—there’s Frost Bite on Greenville and IC-E-NY in Uptown, and a few in its outskirts. It just so happens a second is in the works for Deep Ellum, Culture Map recently reported, which is fine by me.

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