Icy Rolls in West Hartford Center offers a dozen different rolled ice cream flavors with a choice of 37 toppings.
By Ronni Newton
Rolled ice cream, also called stir-fried ice cream, has been a popular street food in Thailand for the past several years and the craze that first hit West Hartford earlier this summer has expanded to the Center with the opening Tuesday of Icy Rolls at 56 LaSalle Rd.
The sweet treat – made fresh to order from natural ingredients – is delicious to eat, but the process of watching the ice cream take shape is also a key part of the attraction.
Customers order and pay for their ice cream in advance, their name written on the cup, explained Chris Tse, who co-owns the West Hartford Icy Rolls with Hecheng Chen. The pair teamed up to open their first Icy Rolls location in Granby (10 Hartford Ave.) earlier this year. Tse also owns Windsor Asian Bistro, and Chen is owner of Ichiro Hibachi in West Hartford Center.
“Once the customer orders, when their name is called, four minutes is the most amount of time before their ice cream is in their hand,” Tse said. Customers stand at the counter and watch as their selection is crafted on one of Icy Rolls’ six stations.
Icy Rolls had a soft opening on Monday before Tuesday’s official opening date, and Tse said so far the wait had not been too long. The goal is to ensure that it’s never longer than 25 minutes, he said.
The dozen ice cream choices include both sweet and fruity, with names like “Tarzan” (banana and Nutella), “Hulk” (mint and oreo), and “Morning Call” (coffee, chocolate, and condensed milk), “Piña Colada,” and “Salted Caramel Pretzel.” Several are available as dairy free options using a coconut base, and many are gluten-free.
The process is fascinating as a creamy flavored liquid base of milk, cream, eggs, and sugar is poured onto an icy cold round metal tray that looks like a pizza pan. It takes about four hours of training for new employees to master the technique of mixing the ingredients and rolling out the mixture as it freezes in minutes on the surface that Tse said measures -13°C.
The technique of solidifying the ice cream is actually simple. “It’s like a freezer, with cold air on the bottom,” Tse said.
Once the ice cream is rolled and placed in the bowl, it looks like a dish mini frozen crepes stacked vertically. That’s when the toppings are added.
Icy Rolls’ $7 charge includes a choice of four toppings from among the 37 selections. Tse provided a tour of the toppings, which include strawberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple, various jellies, rice cakes, sprinkles, crushed pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. Marshmallows are toasted to order for the s’mores ice cream.
“Of course Swedish fish are also popular,” Tse said.
There are also Japanese chocolate stakes that can be added. Whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce area also available and don’t count against the four choices.
“You watch and see how your ice cream is made. It lets the customer know that you’re making their ice cream, feel the personal service,” Tse said. “They leave with a happy face.”
The decor of Icy Rolls is clean and modern, and Tse said they invested well in the design and the process. “My experience is if you can’t keep your store clean and tidy how can you keep your food clean and tidy,” he said.
Near the entrance, the wall is decorated with a mural, a modernized version of the business’ logo. More seating and wall decoration will be added.
Tse said he envisions the wall behind the counter as having old-fashioned photographs of kids eating ice cream. “I want to make a contrast,” he said, between the modern and the traditional.
Icy Rolls serves only ice cream, and will be open year round. Tse said that some other items may be added to the menu, perhaps some hot offerings, once the cold weather arrives.
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