The rolled ice cream trend comes to San Jose’s Willow Glen
THE SANTA CLARA
September 22, 2016
Since 1995, my family has awarded me the title of “Plain Jane,” in reference to my distaste for all sorts of consumables.
If I was offered anything that was not buttered pasta, basic peanut butter sandwiches or simple white rice, I would not even consider it. My mom gave up on me years ago, deciding there was no point in even trying to fight my imminent malnutrition.
So when I was assigned to review an ice cream parlor—a dream for most people—I was fully prepared for my picky palate to reject the universally beloved treat.
Though I expected hell, I found heaven. Icicles, located in downtown Willow Glen, is not your average ice cream parlor. I first heard about it when scrolling through one of the many Tasty videos that seem to overload my Facebook newsfeed each day.
Unlike most creameries, Icicles is one of the first places to sell rolled ice cream in the Bay Area after popping up in big cities like New York and Pittsburgh over the past few years.
The frozen treat, having gained its claim to fame through Thai street vendors, consists of rolled sheets of ice cream, densely packed and prepared right there on the spot.
I stored the delectable image away in my memory along with the rest of the food porn I would never realistically eat or make.
But when friends also started showing me photos of the crazy topping-covered concoctions, I had to have my fill.
Although the line often goes out the door, the half-hour wait is certainly worth the show inside, as ice cream suddenly transforms from food to entertainment.
With bouncy top 40 hits playing on the radio, the employees essentially become stars as customer’s fan around the glass, desperately trying to capture the amazing process in a 10 second Snapchat video.
The employees don’t seem to mind their short-lived fame, encouraging others to get out their phones and capture the experience too.
After ordering from an extensive menu, I watched as the ice cream was made from scratch before my very eyes. I stared in awe along with other customers as employees spread one of three cream bases—Thai tea, vanilla custard or green tea—onto a cold plate and added various ingredients depending on the order.
As the cream and goodies start to chill, the employees chopped and mixed the combo together and spread the mixture in a thin sheet across the plate.
From there, the sheet was rolled into Icicles offers flavors that will surely please everyone – even for the most finicky of eaters like me. For instance, “Nutella and Chill” features crunchy graham crackers and the famous chocolate hazelnut spread. Caffeine fiends will savor the green tea-flavored “Gotcha Matcha” and the hazelnut coffee of “Wake Me Up.” And for those looking for something fruitier, there’s “Strawberry Fantasy,” and “Bravocado,” which even includes chunks of the tantalizing fruit.
Each order costs just $6.50 and includes bottomless toppings, giving customers the freedom to experiment with treats like roasted marshmallows, pretzels, cereal and cheesecake.
For someone with a sensitive palate like mine, I was a bit skeptical about the texture of these concoctions.
What was wrong with just a normal scoop on a cone? The idea of thin frozen sheets resting on my tongue was increasingly dissatisfying.
But with the first scoop, I lost all doubts as I enjoyed rich and dense ice cream unlike any other I had ever had before. All those fancy Facebook videos in their commercial glory suddenly made sense.
The sweetness in that first bite lacked the synthetic taste I had expected from most desserts. Instead the unique flavor of my favorite chocolate hazelnut spread melted in my mouth and soothed my taste buds in their nervous state. The toppings I added, including pretzels and s’mores bites, though adding to the quality, were not even needed to enrich the homemade ice cream.
And you certainly get your money’s worth. While a bit pricey, all my snacking desires were met. A delightful lip-smacking dessert was all I needed on a sweltering Summer day.
I ended up saving almost half my ice cream for what became quite possibly the best midnight snack of my entire college career.
For anyone as picky as me, Icicles will not disappoint.
And for those who love experimenting with their tastebuds, the unique, frozen treat offers endless ways to explore new tastes and flavors.
Stop by Icicles and finally discover true salvation.
P.S. They give you free samples while you wait inside!
Icicles is located at 1275 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, CA.
It opens at noon daily and closes at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday.