The best ice creams to try right now
Originally from the US, Mister Softee's iconic red, white and blue ice cream trucks drove their way into Hongkongers' hearts back in the 70s with their signature vanilla soft serve swirled within a crisp sugar cone ($10). Four decades on and this simple snack still enjoys plenty of praise from locals as well as tourists. While there are only a handful of ice cream trucks left, you should easily find one stationed in those areas with heavy foot traffic, such as near the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier and outside Langham Place in Mong Kok.
The Hyatt Regency's signature restaurant Sha Tin 18 has a solid reputation when it comes to Peking duck and authentic Dongguan cuisine but the high-end Chinese restaurant also does well in the desserts department. Must-tries include the homemade ice creams and sherbets flavoured with Chinese spirits. The wuliangye and chocolate ($42) is a house favourite, but we also recommend the refreshing huadiao wine and preserved plum sherbet ($42).
Launched by snack emporium Okashi Land, this concept store sells prepackaged frozen treats and more than a dozen flavours from some of Japan's most popular soft serve ice cream brands. We recommend Cremia's durian 'softcream' – a pungent but delicious creation made from Hokkaido fresh cream and served in a delicate langue de chat cookie cone. If durian isn't your thing, you can always go for the original milk-flavoured soft serve, which is perfect for milder palates.
Aside from its top-notch brews, hipster haven Elephant Grounds (also featured in our guide to Hong Kong’s quirkiest coffees) offers a delicious selection of artisanal, home-churned ice creams. Flavours range from earl grey cookie to Japanese taro, and there’s always a special of the week that you can enjoy in sandwich format ($68) between two cookies or macarons. These handheld treats usually feature elaborate add-ons like caramel popcorn and dehydrated strawberries.
If you want to enjoy your scoop in a laid-back, artsy environment, then head to Spoon & Bowl. The space is operated by the same team behind Te Momento – a brand that specialises in homemade Italian gelati perfumed by Chinese tea leaves. Try the puer ice cream ($30), which is made with oat milk and tea leaves from Yunnan. If you want something lighter, opt for the honey jasmine tea or osmanthus tea sorbet.
Hanjuku Kobo may be best known for its cheese tarts, cakes and other fromage-filled treats, but the local dessert chain has branched out into new territory recently with the launch of its 'ice croissant' ($48) – a smooth and creamy soft serve nestled in a croissant rather than a conventional cone. For the filling, you can choose between the cheese and Hokkaido milk, or rich French chocolate. Paired with the flaky, buttery, freshly baked croissant cone, look forward to a clash of textures and temperatures.
Vegan ice cream may not sound particularly appealing, but Happy Cow's managed to make it work. Founded in 2013, the company rustles up ice cream that's free of dairy, eggs and artificial additives, while remaining as indulgent as a Dreyer's rocky road. They accomplish this with a base of coconut cream and coconut sugar, blended with all-natural ingredients such as sesame, strawberries and fresh ginger. Flavours are available by the tub at major supermarkets and specialty stores, but you can also enjoy a scoop ($38) on the spot at Happy Cow's shop at the Central ferry piers.
If you want to really spoil yourself, order the over-the-top Cremadoro ($98) from high-end Japanese ice cream parlour I Cremeria. Spun from Hokkaido milk, this luxurious soft serve is sheathed in edible gold leaf. The gilding doesn’t do much in terms of flavour, but it does add a whole lot of flair.
You read that right – sea urchin ice cream ($68) is apparently a thing. S2 Kitchen's chef Cheng Wai-kin spent three years perfecting this novel ice cream, which is made from Hokkaido's famous bafun uni. The steamed uni is added to Hokkaido 3.6 milk, eggs and sugar, and then beaten for between 30 and 60 minutes until it’s smooth and creamy. A labour of love, this sweet and briny dessert is limited to just 10 portions a day.