A Diamond Island entrepreneur has introduced a Thai ice cream franchise to the capital that questions what fans of the frozen dessert know about physics
An ice cream parlour on Koh Pich is drawing flocks of customers by appearing to magically reverse the laws of science – and of ice cream.
At Ice Manias Cambodia, the server starts with a gloopy mixture of crème anglaise and fillings in a cup. The mix is poured onto a dish seemingly identical to the flat bottomed pans used by street sellers to fry noodles.
But rather than bubbling away with oil, these pans are coated in ice, having been cooled by thermal plates to -23 degrees Celsius.
By working the mixture quickly with two spatulas, then spreading it thinly like a crepe across the surface of the pan, the mixture slowly freezes.
Once frozen, the server uses the spatula to scrape strips of ice cream off the cold plate and into thin rolls. Placed side by side in a cup, they have the appearance of a delicate bouquet of roses.
Orb Lykun, the 25-year-old general manager of Ice Manias Cambodia, said the venture had originally been conceived of by her brother.
“He wanted to make a business that was different from others in Cambodia,” she said. “So my brother brought this franchise from Thailand to appeal to young people.”
They have chosen their location aptly: a sleekly fitted-out parlor situated on Koh Pich, which is already the hangout spot of choice for Phnom Penh’s teenage urbanites.
And judging by the queues that form around the shop every evening, the gimmick has found a ready market.
“I first heard about it on Facebook,” said Piseth Moly Ratana, a 16-year-old student, as he watched his ice cream being prepared.
After some deliberation, Ratana settled on a mix of chocolate and fruit filling. “I wanted to try something new,” he said.
Because each dish is prepared individually, this “fried ice cream” – as it is confusingly referred to locally – comes in a profusion of personalised combinations.
Customers can choose from five different bases – vanilla, yogurt, chocolate, green tea or coffee – then ask for cereals and fruit to be added to the mix.
General manager Lykun said that on a weekday there were currently more than a hundred customers per day, and more than 200 on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Fried” ice cream has its origins in Thailand, where it is still sold as a relatively inexpensive street food in local markets. At Ice Manias, it has been rebranded as a luxury commodity: each portion sells for $3, with cream an additional 30 cents.
But Lykun has clearly not priced herself out of the market. “Nowadays, young people like tasting something new and creative,” she said with confidence.