The rolled ice cream craze has officially hit the Twin Cities, and it’s doing so with a bang.
Two shops specializing in this buzzy style of ice cream are debuting this weekend within a couple blocks of each other in St. Paul. The stores will be the first ones in the state.
Wonders Ice Cream Co. is scheduled to open today (Aug. 18) at 298 University Av. W., according to its Facebook page. Sota Hot & Cold, meanwhile, is staging its grand opening at 394 University Av. W. on Saturday, celebrating the Asian-originated frozen treat that is quickly growing in popularity in the United States.
“It’s just such an original and amazing product,” said Sota Hot & Cold owner Pheng Vang. “I know how popular ice cream is here, and this was something that was missing.”
OK, so what is rolled ice cream? Basically, it’s flavored custard that is poured over a frozen griddle, manipulated into a frozen sheet and then pushed into long, skinny rolls like someone might create when scraping paint shavings from a wall. (See the video above.)
A bouquet of those rolls are served in a cup, sometimes with toppings such as whipped cream, sprinkles, candy and fruit.
Vang was introduced to rolled ice cream — which is believed to have first cropped up in Thailand — on social media a few years ago. By then, the product had hit the U.S. coasts. He saw the opportunity, bought a griddle-topped freezer online and began making rolled ice cream at small events throughout the Twin Cities.
Now, he’s got a brick-and-mortar location of his own, in part of the former Mai Village.
Sota Hot & Cold — the ‘hot’ in the name is a nod to the various coffee and espresso drinks that are also available — serves up a handful of wacky and colorful signature flavors. (Think Banana Blitz with bananas, chocolate, caramel and Nutella, and Candyland Cruiser chock full of Jell-O, gummy bears and Kit Kat bars, as well as a build-your-own option with an array of toppings.)
The base of each flavor is vanilla ice cream sweetened with condensed milk.
Wonders, meanwhile, incorporates more traditional Asian tastes such as Vietnamese iced coffee, Thai tea, mango, lychee, mint and avocado into its lineup.
Getting a cup of the cold stuff at Sota Hot & Cold takes anywhere from three to six minutes, depending on the complexity.
But Vang believes the result is worth the wait.
“We’ve gotten amazing feedback about it,” he said. “People seem really excited. I think it could be big here.”