Thai rolled ice cream and its frozen sibling, snow ice, have landed in Philadelphia.
Ice Land (224 N. 10th St., 215-644-8758) is the first in Philly to present the made-to-order desserts that started a few years ago among street vendors in Southeast Asia. It's all the rage now New York and L.A.
In fact, Yan Cai, Ryan Yang, and Jing Yang ventured down from New York to open Ice Land, whose spare blue-and-white decor looks like any number of local bubble-tea shops (to mention the previous trend). Ice Land is in soft-opening mode, keeping hours of noon to 11 p.m.-ish.
The signature Thai rolled ice cream is made by pouring cream, flavorings, and toppings - no preservatives - on a super-cold pan; a worker then scrapes and blends the ingredients. The result is creamy; supposedly it's lower in fat than run-of-the-mill ice cream, but then you're encouraged to pile on sweet toppings.
Snow ice, meanwhile is about 90 percent milk and 10 percent water and flavorings such as roasted black sesame, coconut, taro, or matcha green tea. Workers make them up it beforehand and freeze it into blocks. The blocks go into a shaver that produces a concoction that could be the love child of ice cream and Polish water ice. Snow ice gets toppings and syrups (Nutella, condensed milk, peanut butter, etc.), rendering any notions of healthfulness moot. Unless you ask for fresh strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Then you're good.
Baby, it's cold out outside, as noted previously. In the next week or so, Ice Land is due to get competition in Washington Square with a shop called Sweet Charlie's (711 Walnut St.). Then comes a branch of I CE NY, known as I CE Philly, coming to the new Chinatown Square indoor food hall, at 1020 Race St. and - right across the street from Ice Land - will be Teassert Bar (227 N. 10th St.), which will serve Thai-inspired ice cream rolls and bubble tea.
There's also a shop tentatively called Frozen coming together in a former jewelry store at the southeast corner of 10th and Arch Street. This one is looking at a late-spring or early summer opening.