With elaborate creations featuring unexpected ingredients such as raw eggs, a duo of Taiwanese ice cream ‘chefs’ bring something new for sweet tooths to try.
A large Taiwanese ice cream shop that opened its doors earlier this month in the capital’s Boeung Prolit neighbourhood is offering some of the most unique flavours in town.
Sean Wu, the 23-year-old owner and one of two ice cream “chefs” at Ice Garden, says he spent nearly two years researching the recipes for his business.
“In this business, I did a lot of research, and we spent a year to decide on each [menu] item. I went to different ice cream shops, and I worked at ice cream shops in Taiwan to get experience,” he says.
A graduate from Taiwanese and American hospitality schools, Sean says he’s also bringing the experience of working for his family’s business – a Japanese restaurant.
“In Taiwan, everyone has to train and [have a degree] before managing a restaurant in real life,” he says.
The high-end look the shop is aiming for is instantly conveyed by the fancy cold-brew coffee drip glassware you see on entry. The sleek, modern interior, replete with dark wood tables, white walls and leather chairs fits the theme. Romantic music plays softly in the background.
But there’s substance to match the form: Wu says some of his concoctions require as much as a day and half of work from the base ingredients.
On offer are Taiwanese style ice-cream “slushes” – basically ice-blended milkshakes – which start at $3 each. Last week, Post Weekend had the option of choosing between banana, lemon, coffee, pineapple and strawberry with the option of adding toppings.
The banana slush with red bean has sweet and strong aromas. The taste of the red bean complements the banana flavour well.
More elaborate creations bearing names such as “Ruby Queen”, “supreme chocolate”, “summer carnival”, “granny brownie”, and “full moon” will cost you a buck more.
Ruby Queen was not overly sweet, and includes a milk ice cream with watermelon flavour that is served with frozen watermelon balls, one of Wu’s original creations.
The specialty ice creams may be a bit of a gamble on a public that isn’t accustomed to them, but Wu thinks Cambodians will take a liking to them.
“I tested the ice cream shops in Cambodia, and it tastes [so] sweet, so we tried to make it less sweet and more healthy.”
Beyond the unique flavours, Wu has to introduce his patrons to the use of atypical ingredients found more readily in traditional Taiwanese desserts, he says. Of note, Post reporters treated themselves to a portion of the “Full Moon”, which featured a raw egg that is partially frozen with a heaping of red beans. Perhaps unsurprisingly, reporters who made the trip were split on that particular delicacy, though encouragingly for Wu, the Cambodian half of our team loved it.
But Wu does carry items more instantly recognisable to a Western palate, such as waffles topped with bananas, chocolate syrup and a fat ball of ice cream.
Opening an ice cream shop in Cambodia, Wu says, was an idea that struck him when he visited the Kingdom with his father two years ago and noticed a lack of ice cream.
“Me and my father are ice cream lovers,” he says. “We just want to serve tasty and healthy ice cream for locals.
“We are really excited to operate an ice cream place, and now we’re seeing that local people don’t really understand what we’re doing, but they’re the ones we want to introduce this to the most.”