How do you greet Hong Kong’s sweltering heat and suffocating humidity with a smile? By gorging on ice cream with reckless abandon. The city has no shortage of sweet treats – sweet soup, bubble tea, matcha-flavoured dessert and more – but nothing beats a creamy scoop on a cone. But if you don’t know which swirl to go for, don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered. From nostalgic flavours like White Rabbit Candy from Igloo Dessert Bar to croissants filled with soft serve from Hanjuku Kobo to durian ice cream at Japan Ice Cream House, here are 11 ice cream to help you stay cool all summer long.
RECOMMENDED: If you're looking for more things to feast on, check out our guide to the best things to eat this summer.
10 best ice creams to try right now
Committed to using fresh and natural ingredients of different textures and flavours, Igloo has constantly rolled out different seasonal flavours and enjoys putting fun spins on their ice cream including the White Rabbit Candy gelato topped with gooey White Rabbit sauce. Igloo also offers vegan options with flavours like blood orange, pineapple, lime, coconut water and dark chocolate, as well as gelato served in a baked cookie bowl.
Traditional Chinese sweets get a fun modern makeover at Eat Darling Eat. This is the place where you can get Chinese ginger vinegar ice cream ($48) topped with crunchy pork crackling, inspired by the pig’s trotters and ginger stew is typically eaten during the postpartum period (don’t worry, it’s not just for new mothers). Other scoops on offer include soy milk ($38), double-strength milk with rice wine ($48) and Sichuan pepper topped with a shard of candied bacon ($48).
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 ($45) 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.
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 by the Observation Wheel.
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.