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 experienced wave after wave of intolerable high temps. 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. Make it easy and effortless too — in this heat, there’s no wiggle-room to go extra steps. Do extra. 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.
Where to get the best ice creams in Hong Kong:
A tall, beautiful swirl is what you’ll find at Via Tokyo. As the name indicates, its a spot dedicated to Japanese-style soft serves, including well-loved flavours of matcha, smooth Hokkaido milk and houjicha in single or double twists. Customise your own with various toppings — warabi mochi or a jug of sweet Okinawan black sugar drizzle, for us! — for a perfect parfait, but don’t stop at ice cream; sit-in for a quick refuge from the sun with more sweet comforts: 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 cone, the kind you know 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 elevated recipes; 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, so 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 special treat on this list you won’t mind going back for. All the soft serves here are vegan friendly, one, and the flavours here rotate daily, two. For this week in June, you’ll find the matcha, red bean, oolong and dragonfruit amongst others churning on site. Once upon a time a cold-press juice bar atop Gough Street, the café (now at K11 Musea) recreates popular fruit favourites into creamy, refreshing cones. If it’s not the popular fruity sweets you’re after, monthly exclusive flavours will be a pleasant surprise, too, with one even dedicated to Oatly’s oat milk. Tasty, and to most surprise, 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 topping selection. Our particular favourite: Movie Night 2.0 with M&M’s, popcorn, rainbow sprinkles and caramel sauce with a glazed churro of choice — we’d go for 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. Elephant Grounds at Causeway Bay recently introduced a new Hokkaido milk 5.0 serve with Yubari melon as a quick solution during hot mid-afternoon spells. A tempting treat to break your routine coffee shop too. 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 gelateria needs no introduction, it’s a stalwart favourite which you’ll find yourself walking out with unplanned pouches of pralines. Venchi’s gelatos are creamy and soft, an authentic replica of those tucked away gelaterias in quaint Italian neighbourhoods, with rotating list of seasonal flavours. 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 an exquisite luxury, and, when it returns to menus, the signature melon parfait ‘Frutta Crema’ — soft serve squeezed into a deseeded honeydew melon. Here is a place where ice cream trails beyond the territory of mundane cream-and-cone combos. Particularly the ‘Cremadoro’ is worth a mention; albeit more looks than flavour, where the milk soft serve completely coated in edible gold leaf. 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 spot is simple, unassuming; identifiable only via the red lacquered exterior and cone-shape graphic. Here, its not about fancy tricks, but honest scoops of low-fat natural gelato that is churned with the freshest ingredients. Although the menu rotates seasonally and includes an interesting range of local dessert-inspired flavours, including black sesame and milk tea, the friendly staff are always happy to give out sample scoops until you pick your fancy. 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 onto the loaded-up scoop. Dusted in cereal; dipped in chocolate; covered in mini mallows. The ice cream, also an extensive range with unimaginable but love-to-have range that caters to any preference, a testament to the vibrant energy the US-born parlour once was when founded in 1975: a great convivial space filled delicious ice cream and great tunes. 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. It’s encouraged.
Emack & Bolio’s, various locations including G/F, 26 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2505 6626
Header image courtesy of Via Tokyo.