Here are the ice cream shops we tried out this summer, the new cheeky alcoholic concepts, and some tried and true favorites.
Dip In Gelato on Fumin Lu opened in March. We went to try the wanghong Lychee Cream Beer (??????), which supposedly contains 1.4% alcohol. The beer is fruity, sort of like a cider, and texture is smoothly dense. Two flavors for 35rmb. If Earl Grey Cheesecake or Malted Milk White Coffee seem like good ice cream ideas to you, get down before they change the menu.
At Fontaine, they’ve been putting booze in their gelato since they opened in May. The signature here is the Flying Fairy Moutai (49rmb), which is very chocolatey and very boozy. The lingering taste of Maotai is actually quite pleasant with chocolate. You wouldn’t guess it before you’ve tried it. The seasonal special, Pandan Coconut Rum, uses Bacardi and the juice of pandan leaves. Other flavors on the rotating menu are orange osmanthus with white wine, and tequila, Tabasco and wild berries. Cheers!
The signature soft serve of the place is Sea Salt Cheese (28rmb) — we mixed this blue-colored cone with a bright-pink watermelon flavor because we're hardcore that way. Not too sweet, not too milky. Eat fast. It melts quickly. The Affogato (42rmb) was sweet and buttery, lighter than the usual ones made with Italian gelato. Loved it. Also on their menu are fruit smoothies topped with ice cream, and ice cream with melon liqueur or St Germain Elderflower liqueur (both at 42rmb).
Luneurs is a chic but approachable modern French bakery and ice cream shop on Panyu Lu, serving up big scoops of delectable ice cream. Their special Luneurs’ salted caramel ice cream is very, very good: the salt flaks on top hark back to Breton roots. (We chatted to their Director of Ice Cream Affairs, Anne-Catherine Guilloux, if you’re curious.) Another flavor to look out for is the apricot thyme sorbet. Also delicious. The desserts come out presented on a marble alter, like sculptural works. 30rmb for single scoop, 45rmb for double.
Gracie's ice cream at Al's Diner is another worthy choice. Leading the charge on ice cream innovation. A real chef's hat approach to ice cream. They mix up new flavors each season. We always enjoy the Half Baked Cookie Dough, 30rmb for a scoop or 50rmb for two.
Turin-based brand with international branches. It trades in good gelato, "how it used to be made", which means no artificial flavors, colorings, additives, preservatives or emulsifiers. They operate their own farm, experiment with new cultivars, pre-mix in a central laboratory in Turin, seal it in plastic and send it out. All of this is explained in a looping video on a high-def monitor mounted on the wall. Flavors are mostly classics: stracciatella, vanilla, espresso, pistachio, as well as some unique seasonal flavors, like candied chestnut — definitely worth trying. A smaller selection of sorbets features some flavors you don't see much of here, like apricot and pear (get this one). Expect lines. 39rmb for a small size 100g serving.