D-Ice’s unique Thai fried ice cream
by Hannah Rowe / photos by Zach Straw
It’s human nature to stick with flavors you know you like, but at D-Ice, trying something new is highly encouraged. Located in the food court of Eastland Mall on Green River Road, D-Ice is known for serving up delicious and unexpected flavors of rolled ice cream.
Kim Hock Seow, his wife Mee Leng Ting, and their children make up the fun family business. Known as Thai fried ice cream rolls, this creative take on a classic treat is filled with fresh ingredients and various flavors. D-Ice offers several kinds of ice cream to choose from and this dish, called Bear Lover, is
packed with delightful tastes.
REAL FLAVORS: A blend of strawberry ice cream base, fresh chopped strawberries, and a drizzle of strawberry syrup is smoothed onto a freezing surface and, once solidified, rolled up into five rolls.
FINAL TOUCH: Last but not least, pouring a small amount of strawberry syrup ties every flavor together and finishes the dish off on a sweet note.
TOASTY FLUFF: A freshly toasted marshmallow joins other embellishments to offer yet another texture.
DECORATIVE DOLLOP: For even more creaminess, rolls are topped with a healthy amount of whipped cream.
COLOR COORDINATED: The carefully placed strawberry wafers contribute to the aesthetically pleasing design and add some crunch to the velvety ice cream.
FRESH PICKS: A fresh strawberry nearly completes the list of toppings on the snack. Using real ingredients is important to the taste and quality of the dish.
Amiee Blume, Special to the Courier & Press
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Leave it to the ice cream experts in steamy Thailand to come up with a brilliant technique for instantly creating some of the best ice cream we've ever tasted, starting with cream, freezing and “churning” it with spatulas right in front of the customer.
They call it rolled ice cream or Thai ice cream rolls — or sometimes “stir-fried ice cream,” although it has nothing to do with stir-frying. It's a fairly new phenomenon, coming into vogue only in the last decade or so, and in December we got our own rolled ice cream spot, D-Ice in Eastland Mall food court.
The spectacle of its creation is only the beginning of the pleasure.
“The ice cream is all freshly made,” said owner Ki Hock Seow, whose family hails from Thailand's southern neighbor, Malaysia. “We start with the cream and chop in real ingredients for flavor while it freezes in the cold pan. We think freshly made always tastes best.”
Here's how it works: A flat metal pan is kept frozen to about -5 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface. Milk, cream, or a sweetened ice cream mixture is poured on, and flavoring ingredients are added. These might be fruit, chocolate cookies, sweetened red beans, or many more.
The mixture is stirred, scraped, spread out, and chopped vigorously with two spatulas as it freezes in contact with the pan surface. This is where the “stir-fried” analogy comes in. Total freezing happens in only about a minute.
“The process takes a little while,” said Seow. “We use real peaches in the peach ice cream, real strawberries, no flavorings. There are some syrups we can use on top for garnish, but we use real fruit to flavor the ice cream. The chocolate flavor comes from two kinds of cookies we chop up in it.”
Each ice cream behaves differently depending on the types of ingredients added, and each takes a slightly different technique and amount of freezing before it's ready to roll.
Just before the ice cream is totally solid, the “cook” spreads it out in a large thin square. It solidifies, and the cook uses the spatula to quickly scrape it into perfect cylindrical rolls, which are deftly grabbed with tongs and stacked upright in a paper serving cup.
Toppings are varied and fun. Syrups, whipped cream, cookies, fruit and more are piled on before the colorful treat is passed to the customer.
The ice cream itself is, naturally, dense. With no air whipped in, it sets up into a solid sheet, but the act of rolling it distributes air throughout the thin layers of frozen cream, so it isn't hard. The delicate spiraled layers easily break apart into thick shards which are easy to scoop up and melt with an amazingly rich texture right across your tongue.
D-Ice is a family business. Kim Hock Seow runs the shop day-to-day with his oldest son Johnathan and a few employees. His wife and younger son Abel Seow come in for busy evenings and weekends.
There are already a dazzling array of quirkily-named ice cream dishes to choose from, all priced at $5.99 or $6.25 for a large serving, with more varieties to be added as warmer weather arrives.
We tried the “Follow Your Heart,” which is peach ice cream rolls (with real peaches) topped with peach and strawberry syrup, mandarin orange segments, coconut, and whipped cream. It was delicious and tasted like fresh peaches and cream with that crazy hard-splintery-melty-rich ice cream texture.
There are plenty of safe options, such as the “Bear Lover,” with strawberry ice cream, strawberry wafer cookie, marshmallow, and strawberry syrup; the “Hi Monkey,” with banana ice cream, cookie, chocolate syrup and toasted marshmallow; or the “520 Universe,” with mango ice cream, cookie, sprinkle, whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Others feature vanilla, honeydew, or blueberry ice cream and toppings.
If you want to shake it up, however, try one of the more exotic flavors. “The Night Without You” is made with black sesame seed ice cream and glitter sour stars. The “IOU” starts with sweetened red bean ice cream, and the “Dare to Dream” blends taro, the purple-tinted root used to make Hawaiian poi, into the ice cream.
Fans of fun-to-drink bubble tea can get their fix here as well, with bubble tea smoothies served, again, garnished to the gills with everything from gelatin squares to fresh fruit and whipped cream.
In March, watch for another new phenomenon called dragon breath, chunks of “cereal” that is submerged in liquid nitrogen before being served in a cup with toothpicks for eating. When you put the extremely frozen chunks in your mouth, plumes of vapor from liquid nitrogen exit, making quite the spectacle.
“We really appreciate what people have come in and done for us,” said Seow. “We were expecting our products to take a little while to catch on, but somehow people know and they are coming. They tell friends and family members. I see people come in from the main entrance to the food court and walk straight to us.”
In Eastland Mall Food Court, at 800 N. Greenriver Road
Eastland Mall Hours
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday 12 noon – 6 p.m.
Ice cream base with fruit is chopped and stirred
The ice cream is spread into a flat layer to freeze completely...
Then deftly scraped up with the spatula to form rolls
After all the ice cream is rolled ....
It is stacked into a serving cup and finished with whipped cream and toppings
The "Follow your Heart", with peach ice cream, mandarin oranges, peach and strawberry syrup, coconut and whipped cream