The dessert trend that swept New York City in 2015 has arrived in Houston. Known as rolled ice cream, the Thai confection is so precious-looking it demands to be posted to Instagram immediately. Just ask the almost 300 people who “liked” this article’s lead image within a couple hours of its being posted on the CultureMap account Tuesday night.
Class 502, an ice cream and tea shop in Chinatown’s Dun Huang Plaza (a few doors down from popular ramen shop Tiger Den), just began serving the dessert. With its school theme decor that includes a blackboard menu and tables shaped like desks, the cafe gives off a bit of a Bernie’s Burger Bus vibe with a Japanese twist. Currently, five flavors are available at a cost of $5.99.
The procedure is simple. Flavored cream and toppings are poured onto a frozen stainless steel plate. The toppings are then diced, combined with the cream, and spread into a thin, flat layer that’s scraped with a spatula into rolls.
Next, an employee picks the rolls up with tongs, places them into a paper cup, and finishes the dish by adding toppings (fruit, candy, cookies) and a drizzle of sauce. Diners can watch the approximately three-minute-long process, which adds a bit of a theatrical element to the experience.
My friends and I sampled three flavors. We agreed that the my intensely-flavored coffee ice cream was the night’s big winner, followed by cookies and cream. The strawberry flavor tasted a little too artificial, even though it had strawberries chopped in. Overall, the ice cream's texture and creaminess probably rank a notch below high-quality, locally made options like Cloud 10 and Fat Cat Creamery, but it might be just the thing to put out the fire after a proper Chinatown crawfish feast.
Really, the only downside is how long it takes to prepare. Even on a Tuesday night, the wait ran about 15 minutes. Although the employees moved relatively quickly to complete each order, Class 502 only has two of the metal plates. Expect wait times to spike as more people decide rolled ice cream is the next experience they have to share on social media.