This neighbourhood ice cream and waffle parlour deep in the heartlands of Singapore is as delicious as it is Instagrammable. Take it its neon light display, the intoxicating scent of buttermilk waffles and generous scoops of ice cream – it's a feast for the senses. Scoops are priced at $3.80 (add $0.80 for premium flavours such as mao shan wang durian) and come in unique creations like oolong lavender, honeydew cucumber and Yakult Oreo.
The grand-daddy of Singapore's boutique ice cream scene is all about championing local flavours. There are options like the obligatory durian and milo, and other unusual offerings such as pulut hitam, tiger beer sorbet and even Singapore Milk, made with cow's milk from a local farm. The ice cream here is incredibly dense and rich, but notably, Island Creamery doesn't use any eggs or gelatin – just milk, fresh cream, and intense churning. Prices are dead affordable (scoops start at $3.80) and we love the laidback, neighbourhood vibe.
TRY The Pineapple Tart. Tastes just like the real deal, thanks to all those crumbs of pineapple tart.
Delicately-perfumed and sophisticated, the botanical-inspired flavours at Birds of Paradise tastes like edible poetry. This tiny gelato nook along East Coast Road Road is standing room-only and perpetually packed. Flavour, texture and colour are coaxed from flowers, herbs, nuts and spices for signatures like white chrysanthemum, strawberry basil, and lemongrass ginger (from $4.70 a scoop). Even their housemade waffle-cone ($1) is scented with thyme.
TRY White Chrysanthemum. Think of it as a gentler, floral take on the classic chocolate chip, but with raw cacao nibs.
Simple flavours done really well, that's the ethos behind Apiary. The minimalist ice cream parlour on Neil Road favours classic parfums (from $3.90 a scoop) such as ferrero rocher, pistachio (made with Sicilian pistachio for nuttier intensity) and black sesame. It's also found success in experimental concoctions such as Blue Milk (tinted with butterfly pea flowers) and Pink Peppercorn. Flavours rotate frequently – there are about 18 at any one time, two of which are always sorbets.
TRY Apiary, the eponymous signature. The base is always honey ice cream, and they often switch up the fold-in ingredients - bee pollen, cacao nibs, nuts etc.
Matchaya may be locally owned, but its Nihonesque soft-serve is just as authentic as some of Japan's best. There are only four flavours (two, if you're at Icon Village) – matcha, houjicha, goma, and Hokkaido milk – though they frequently introduce seasonal ones like sakura and ichigo. The soft-serve is excellent on its own (from $5.90 a cup) or you can add classically Japanese toppings such as kinako powder and warabi mochi. The Cathay outlet also has a small dine-in nook where they serve kakigori and fondue in matcha, houjich and sesame flavours.
TRY Houjicha soft-serve, for its toasty aroma and caramel-like notes, and preferably with some of those wobbly warabi mochi.
Another veritable institute, Tom's Palette isn't one to shy away from unorthodox flavours (from $4 a scoop). They make a point to create a new flavour every month and its repertoire now stands at over 150. Among ist wackiest: white chocolate nori and parmesan cheese and cream crackers. Its spirit of innovation has also resulted in a handful of vegan flavours such as peanut butter brownie and coconut gula melaka. Fun fact: none of the owners are named Tom. The shop's actually named after a naysaying good friend they were determined to prove wrong.
TRY Salted egg yolk. It's legit gau, thanks to all that salted egg yolk.
Several ice cream parlours have attempted chendol, but the version at the Muslim-owned Overrun is hands-down our favourite. We love that the gula melaka-steeped soft-serve ($6) is aromatic without bordering on jelak (the serving size is huge!) and the obligatory sticky syrup is rightly intense. It comes with chendol and desiccated coconut flakes too, though we find them distracting. You're better off upgrading yours to a Durian Chendol ($8) to pile it with durian puree. Chendol's the mainstay, with one rotating flavour each week – snickers, mango sticky rice and the like.
TRY The signature chendol ice cream.
Fatcat's claim to fame is their salted egg yolk sauce for waffles but we'd like to draw your attention to their awesome tea-flavoured ice cream (from $3.90). Earl grey lavender! Genmaicha! Assam tea! Smoked oolong tea! Along with other unconventional fare like smoked chocolate, watermelon soju, and butter beer. For even kookier combinations, look to their seasonal desserts menu, many of which comprise theatrical elements such as chocolate-coated ice creamed suspiciously like pebbles, and pinata-style milkshakes you gotta whack through.
TRY Earl Grey Lavender. One of the best in town, it’s ambrosial and luscious like it should be.
Founded by Gyo Kimura in 1979, this dessert shop and teahouse originated in Tokyo. Ice cream flavours in their display freezers range from vanilla options like milk and dark chocolate and well, vanilla. But the creamy Hokkaido milk that the brand prides itself on using is more likely to be enjoyed in scoops of green tea, black sesame, lychee and sweet potato flavours. Have it heaped and smoothed out on a cup, or order a mix of flavours peaked on a sturdy wafer cone.
TRY Matcha – it's smooth and slightly bitter just the way green tea ice cream should be.
In a town where newfangled flavour combinations have become de rigueur, Creamier is proof that simple ice cream on crisp dough can still emerge tops. Holding their own against the café’s limited edition scoops made fresh every day, the waffles offer the perfect contrast of outer crispiness and inner gooeyness that don't turn soggy even as the natural- ingredient ice creams starts to melt on top of it.
TRY Waffles with the rose-tinted raspberry love, Thai iced tea, Earl Grey and salted gula Melaka.
Tucked in a HDB block flanking the Yishun Neighbourhood Park, the ice creams here are made in-house, which explains crazy creations like Tiger Beer with salted almonds, Mr Potato Head – salted caramel, vanilla ice cream and chocolate-coated potato chips – and orh nee (Teochew yam paste). Have it by the scoop ($3/classic, $4/premium), or topped on waffles ($4.50/golden waffle, $6/charcoal with salted caramel sauce).
TRY Thai milk tea. Unlike its liquid counterpart, the ice cream version available here isn't too cloyingly sweet.
Homegrown ice cream brand Udders started as a small shop at Novena, which has now grown to four outlets across the island. Its ice creams are free from any artificial flavouring or colouring and are completely vegetarian-friendly. Try its range of boozy flavours including Rum Rum Raisin ($14.70/tub) and Bailey's and Bourbon ($14.70/tub). But its real claim to fame is its mao shan wang durian ice cream ($18.50) made from real pulp from the king of fruits.
The shop's Instagram-worthy interiors and desserts attract a certain see-and-be-seen crowd, but the ice cream is worth the effort and distance. You can get yours parfait-style (from $8) or on waffles (from $10) and each flavour comes with their pre-selected housemade toppings like almond thins and fresh strawberries for the earl grey lavender. And just so you know, what you're having is in fact freshly churned ice cream that has skipped the second freezing step – not soft-serve.
TRY Chocolate Earl Grey Lavender Slushie. It's chocolatey and fragrant and icy and also easier on the palate on blistering days.
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Smoother, silkier, but not any less yummy, here's where to get an upgrade on the McDonald's vanilla cone.