In the era of Instagrammable desserts, no foodie’s feed is complete without pictures of rolled ice cream, unicorn milkshakes, and a soft serve cone wrapped in cotton candy from Australian import Aqua S. As of this week, Houstonians can add stretchy ice cream to that list.
Booza, a newly opened ice cream shop in the former Krisp Bird & Batter space at 5922 Richmond Ave., serves up stretchy ice cream in a wide array of flavors. The shop comes to Houston via Ricky Rukab and his sons Fadi (known as Chris), Robert, and Rami; the Rukab family operates a shop in the Palestinian city of Ramallah that’s been serving booza, a catch-all term for this style of ice cream, since 1941.
“Since we came to the States in 1998, [my sons] wanted to do ice cream,” Rukab tells CultureMap. “I told him no, but he was determined. While I was traveling, I came back and I found out he borrowed money and bought the equipment from Italy. He told me I had to teach him how to make ice cream.”
Rukab gave in and taught his sons the family recipe that he learned at nine years old. He describes the texture as somewhere between gelato and Turkish ice cream. The signature “stretchy” quality comes from the use of “Arabic gum” (Rukab’s words), rather than eggs, as a thickener.
When the family started making ice cream a few years ago for festivals and other community events, they quickly discovered that people remembered the Rukab name. It took awhile to identify the right space, but they’re now open daily to serve flavors like natural milk with pistachio, pineapple, and mint.
Count Christopher Balat as a fan. The business partner of Cloud 10 Creamery chef Chris Leung, Balat tells CultureMap he stops by Rukab’s every time he visits his family in Ramallah.
“‘How do we get Rukab’s ice cream back to the U.S. with us,’ was always the question when leaving Ramallah,” Balat says. “It’s a staple in the Middle East and a mandatory stop when visiting! Houston is very fortunate to have this dessert in our backyard, and the entire Cloud 10 Creamery team is very excited.”
So far, the response has exceeded the family’s expectations. They’re already looking to grow. “We’re working on doing locations all over the United States,” Rukab says.