Triple scoop and a caramel-dipped waffle cone, please.
It’s the middle of June; barely the beginning of Hong Kong summertime and we’ve already had unbearable heatwaves after the next. While we’re not complaining of the clear blue skies and sunshine weather that follows, what we do really need is a sweat-free remedy to quick cool-downs in rising temps. Make it easy and effortless too — in this heat, there’s no wiggle-room for extra steps. A duck into an air-conditioned room. A big sip of a cold fizzy drink. A mouthful of ice cubes. But the best kind of remedy of all? A creamy soft serve ice cream.
A tall, beautiful swirl is what you’ll find at Via Tokyo. As the name indicates, there are various Japanese-style soft serves here, including matcha, smooth Hokkaido milk and houjicha available in either single or double twists. They’re customisable with various toppings — warabi mochi or a jug of sweet Okinawan black sugar drizzle — and served in either cones, cups or a loaded up bowl — the choice is all yours, but it’s the settling on one options that’ll prove difficult. Don’t stop at just ice cream, sit-in for quick shelter from the heat and with more sweet solace: the Uji Matcha Cream mille feuille and matcha roll-cake are delicious afternoon treats.
Via Tokyo, Shop 1A-1B, G/F, Leishun Court, 106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2895 1116
Not only is Baekmidang’s soft-serve the archetypal image of a perfect ice cream cone, the kind you know, just by first-look, is soft, creamy and melt-in-your-mouth smooth, they’re also made with organic milk sourced from select dairy farms. The South Korean café recreates summer go-to favourites in impressive elevated strides; not to mention a picture-perfect swirl. Case in point: the chocolate milk serve is made using 81 percent rich cacao, while the matcha is specially sourced from the green tea fields of Jeju Island using only young tea leaves. We’d bet money you’d be back for more, in case you’d like to stock up for home, Baekmidang’s serves come in takeaway tubs available online. Makes for a great picnic treat, if you manage to transport it over.
Baekmidang, various locations including B225A, Level B2, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, East Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 6655 1901
Dama is unlike any other on this list. All the soft serves here are vegan friendly, for one, and the flavours here rotate daily. For today, 22 June, you’ll find the matcha, red bean and dragonfruit churning on site. Once a cold-press juice bar atop Gough Street, the café now recreates popular summer fruit favourites into creamy, refreshing cones. If it’s not the popular durian or dragonfruit you’re after, perhaps the monthly limited flavours will be a pleasant surprise, too, like chocolate and wild blueberries and even one dedicated to Oatly’s oat milk. Tasty, and as you’ll be surprised, even better than the real thing.
Dama, Shop 411, Level 4, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, East Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 9527 2033
Twist & Buckle
Sure, Twist & Buckle is better known for its deep-fried churros, but the sugar-dusted snack also come served jabbed in a tub of creamy smooth vanilla soft serve. Even better. Go either ‘Special’ — for a choice of the signature glazed and sprinkled churros — or ‘Original, with plain sugar-dusted churros, and pair it one of the nine, equally delicious ice cream selection in various topping combinations. Our particular favourite: the Movie Night 2.0 with M&M’s, popcorn, rainbow sprinkles and caramel sauce with a glazed churro of choice — our pick would be the Wonderland, strawberry pink chocolate with rainbow sprinkles, perfectly on par with the running theme.
Twist & Buckle, 29-31 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
You’d typically head to Elephant Grounds for a bite of the signature ice cream sandwiches or strong wifi signal, but the soft serves? Probably not. You’ll find it’ll make a delicious companion to your usual coffee order — an affogato can be enjoyed any time of the day, we think. Elephant Grounds at Causeway Bay has just added a new Hokkaido milk 5.0 serve with Yubari melon as a quick solution during hot mid-afternoon spells. It’s be a delightful break while strolling through the avenues — and a much-welcomed one at that.
Elephant Grounds, various locations including Shop C, 42-28 Fashion Walk, Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2562 8688
This beloved Italian gelato brand needs no introduction, it’s a stalwart favourite where you’ll find yourself walking out with pouches of pralines even when you’ve planned to go for just ice cream. Venchi’s gelatos are creamy and soft, an authentic replica of what you’ll find at neighbourhood gelateria in Italy, with seasonal flavours rotating monthly. Spy the rainbow ice-cream window display and head on in. Now new on the menu: durian, for those who anticipate this time of the year where the fruit is fresher and more pungent than ever; and a 50 percent reduced-sugar strawberry, for those mindful cheat days.
Venchi, various locations including Shop OT G16A, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3101 9981
What makes iCremeria a popular favourite: The parfait style ‘Giapponese’ soft serve with a generous sprinkle of toppings that makes eating ice cream feel like a luxury, and, when it returns to menus, the signature melon parfait ‘Frutta Crema’ — soft serve squeezed into a deseeded honeydew melon that double as an art piece. Here is a place where ice cream moves beyond the cream-and-cone combo, for wonderful photographic opportunities or a breakaway from the mundane. In particular the ‘Cremadoro’ is worth a mention. Albeit more looks than flavour, with the milk soft serve completely coated in edible gold leaf, with some heft in bragging rights.
New for the summer is the Japanese Peach Parfait, which layers slices of Japanese white peach atop the ‘Classio Crema’, a silky smooth blend of Hokkaido fresh milk and cream ice cream.
iCremeria, various locations including Shop F9, 1/F, Fashion Walk, 11-19 Great George Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2897 1118
Is any ice cream list even complete without the mention of XTC Gelato? This Hong Kong homegrown gelateria is simple, unassuming; identifiable only via the lacquered fire-engine red exterior and cone-shape graphic. Here there are no tricks, but honest scoops of low-fat natural gelato that is churned with the freshest ingredients. While the menu often changes seasonally and includes an interesting range local desserts-inspired flavours, including black sesame and milk tea, the friendly staff are always happy to give out sample scoop. If you do, however, stumble upon a specific flavour that you can’t stop thinking about, there’s probably a takeaway tub available to order or try your luck diving into the cold aisle of citywide supermarkets.
XTC Gelato, various locations including Shop B, 45 Cochrane Street, Central, +852 2541 0500
Emack & Bolio’s
At any point, you’ve probably been tempted by the overly decorated, skyward cones of Emack & Bolio’s that always manages to surprise — somehow there is always new treat wedged into the loaded-up scoop. Dusted in cereal; dipped in chocolate; covered in mini mallows. The main star of the show, the ice cream, also arrives in the same extensive range made for any flavour niche of every sweet-tooth. Only one agenda defines the vibrant energy of this US-based ice-cream parlour: a great time with a delicious ice cream, in a space filled with great tunes — the exact precedent of the original Emack & Bolio’s when founded in 1975. So, while you decide on your choice of poison (go for triple scoops, they won’t stop you!) — might I suggest the ‘Trippin’ on Espresso’ or Maple Walnut — don’t shy from bopping to backtracking beat.
Emack & Bolio’s, various locations including G/F, 26 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2505 6626
Header image courtesy of Via Tokyo.