Leonard Ong is in the business of making people smile. “When you have ice cream, you feel happy,” shares the owner of Dopa Dopa Creamery. He decided to name his gelato shop after dopamine, the chemical compound that affects the way people feel pleasure. His goal: “to spread happiness” – served in cups, waffle cones, and sometimes sandwiched between flaky croissants.
But making, even serving, gelato is hard work. Home-roasted pistachio, the shop’s most popular flavour, is labourious to create. The nuts are first slow-roasted, then blended down into a thick paste to flavour the ice cream. The resultant murky colour might be confusing: chlorophyll, the reason why pistachio nuts are green, is lost to the heat in the process. In its place, a shade of earthy brown, toasty in flavour, develops.
Other flavours that are stored within the shop's special ponzetti include milk oolong, green tea toasted rice, and lemon basil sorbet. They might be hidden from sight, but with each order, Leonard performs a peculiar action: he hand-whips a portion of gelato to make it “springy and elastic”. This extra, painstaking step warms up the dessert, giving it less of a frozen bite. “You can taste more of the flavours,” he says.