Sat, May 25, 2019 - Page 13 News List

Taipei’s cult of ice cream

Sophisticated flavors, surprising ingredients and a little booze make these ice cream spots the go-to destination when summer arrives

By Davina Tham  /  Staff reporter

At gelato and dessert wine bar Zeit X Linck, apple cheesecake gelato is paired with honey-infused whisky for a very adult-friendly dessert.

Photo: Davina Tham, Taipei Times

Forget the supermarket pint and the NT$18 soft serve. Taipei’s independent ice cream parlors are churning out small-batch creations using seasonal, local ingredients — think regional produce, teas and native liquors. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a vegan, a toddler, an office-worker, a creature of comfort or an adventurous eater.

SNOW KING ICE CREAM

Snow King Ice Cream has been around since 1947 and remains one of the foremost representatives of Taiwanese-style ice cream, which has an icier and even slightly chewy mouthfeel. The shop’s wide repertoire includes unlikely flavors like pork floss (NT$125), Thai basil (NT$100) and sesame oil chicken (NT$135).

When I order a scoop of 58-percent Kinmen Kaoliang (NT$150) in broad daylight, the female proprietor shows a look of concern. The ice cream is sweetened just enough to cool the burn of the liquor, although a warming tingle remains. While the kaoliang’s natural fragrance is alluring, it might be difficult to finish the scoop because of the alcohol’s intensity. As the proprietor clears my half-full glass, she says kindly, “Kaoliang is not so suitable for young ladies,” and advises me to hold the staircase railing tightly on my way out.

Taiwanese beer (NT$120) also gets the ice cream treatment here. Not all flavors are unconventional — the shop’s bestseller is kidney bean (NT$95), a common topping on sweet beancurd, and in the summer, lychee (NT$110), mango (NT$100) and watermelon (NT$95) ice creams are made with real fruit.

SNOW KING ICE CREAM (雪王冰淇淋)

Address: 2F, 65, Wuchang St Sec 1, Taipei City

(台北市武昌街一段65號2樓)

Telephone: (02) 2331-8415

Open: Daily, noon to 8pm

Average meal: NT$100

Details: Cash only; English and Chinese menu

On the Net: www.facebook.com/snowkingicecream

ZEIT X LINCK

Located down a chic side street near Zhongshan MRT Station, this is a tiny offshoot of Linck Gelateria in Taoyuan. The gelato here is dense, smooth and fantastically flavored, featuring ingredients like the herb Chinese mesona (仙草), which is used to make grass jelly, peanuts from Kinmen, amaretti or Italian almond cookies, Sicilian pistachios and a mean Madagascan vanilla.

Zeit X Linck specializes in dessert alcohol pairings (NT$160 or NT$180) unique to each flavor of gelato. Apple cheesecake gelato, studded with chunks of the fruit, goes with honey-infused whisky. Chili-inflected chocolate is served with Kahlua, and peanut with a chocolate cream-based liquor. The suggested method is to eat up to a quarter of the gelato first and then pour the alcohol over bit by bit, adding more dimensions to an already stunning dessert.

If this all sounds a little too wild, the gelato can also be eaten neat (NT$110 or NT$140) or in a more conventional affogato (NT$160). The friendly proprietors, who seemed to be having a party of their own when I visited, also serve wine and cocktails, meeting the needs of the most world-weary adults.

ZEIT X LINCK (采 時代)

Address: 35, Chifeng St, Taipei City (台北市赤峰街35號)

Telephone: (02) 2558-9700

Open: Monday to Friday, 4pm to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1pm to 10pm

Average meal: NT$160

Details: Chinese menu; reservations recommended for larger groups

On the Net: www.linckgelato.com

SMALL COURTYARD

Small Courtyard serves only one flavor of soft serve at a time, usually changing it up halfway through the week. This exclusivity works because the seasonal flavors and their accompaniments make for compelling duos, such as lychee with rose port jam, guava with roselle honey, red-skinned mango with moscato and tiramisu with chestnut paste.

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