The Asian ice cream that's made in front of your eyes – on a freezing cold plate
Fact: everything is better with ice-cream. And what with us being experts in desserts – and by ‘expert’, we mean ‘have eaten a lot of’ – when we heard about the launch of Yumitub, a Thai rolled ice-cream shop in Brixton, London, we got down there quicker than a Solero melting in the midday sun.
The idea is the brainchild of Rebecca Pearson and her boyfriend Stephen, who were introduced to the traditional street-food method of making the dessert in a happy encounter in Thailand’s Ko Phi Phi island. Sweetened cream is poured onto a -30˚C cold plate, pushed around until it freezes, and then fruit or sweet treats are chopped up into it. It’s then ‘rolled’ up et voilà – fresh, instantaneous ice-cream.
Rebecca tells us: “We’d never seen it before and we were quite fascinated by it. To me, it tastes a lot fresher than regular ice-cream as it’s all made on the spot. We asked the guys all about it, and went back every day to try out all the different flavours.” Basically, the best research trip ever.
Back home in the UK, an idea for their own street-food version had been ignited: “We kept talking about doing it to the point where my boyfriend was like, 'Let’s do it, let’s order the machine.' So we did.”
And here's how it's done:
1. Pour vanilla flavoured cream onto the cold plate
2. Move the cream around for a minute or so as it freezes instantly
3. Add your chosen toppings and chop them into the cream mixture
4. Spread the mixture out and scrape into rolls
5. Serve, laden with sauces and further toppings
Originally, the couple planned to hit the festival scene, but heard a space had become available in Brixton’s pop-up food market called Pop Brixton. Within a few weeks they were approved and open to the public on 29 May 2015.
The most in-demand flavour at the moment is “anything with Oreos in it,” says Rebecca. “Fudge is also really popular, as is peanut butter. We thought fruits would be a best seller but everyone seems to go for the top-shelf sweet section.” Ice-cream isn’t really the time for your five-a-day, is it.
Other regulars have worked their way through the selections on offer and have started bringing in their own toppings to add to the mix – and obviously, booze has also become a central ingredient, too. Rebecca says: “The other day a customer brought along cherries in brandy and we tried that out for him and it was really good. We can do a softer scoop as when we make it with alcohol, it doesn’t freeze so it makes it softer. Our most popular is Bailey’s but we’ve also got Jägermeister for the renegades out there and at the moment we’re doing strawberry Pimm's.”
A small tub of rolled ice-cream costs £3.50 and a large costs £4.50 and the recent heat wave has happily meant queues out the door. Rebecca says: “The response has been amazing. We get a lot of people coming to us after a friend has told them about us – we even had someone enquire about hiring us for their wedding the other day, so it’s the highest praise.”
This summer, they are conquering south London. Next summer, the UK. “We’re looking to get a cold plate made in this country, then the plan is to take it to the festivals,” says Rebecca. “Then we’d like to find more quirky and unique places to open up in.” By which time, eating pre-made ice-cream from a tub will feel positively ancient.