Monday and Tuesday of my NYC trip celebrated current food fads that are blazing across the country. Ramen shops are uprising, for example. Little niches for noodle slurping and tonkotsu broth are popping up everywhere, and I savored a rich and spicy concoction at mokbar in Chelsea Market. I perched on a stool by the counter ledge and scarfed down thin egg noodles while sipping a hearty kimchi broth steeped in bacon, chasing strands of lagooning noodle bits as the bowl’s depths receded.
That night, I made the trek to sample ice cream rolls, a newfangled dessert that hails from Thailand’s street food. The idea is simple yet innovative–present ice cream in a unique, enticing way that is aesthetically pleasing yet still captures the creamy goodness of the classic dessert. I checked out I-CE NY, a tiny destination that easily crams if people line up. In all honesty, the guy working at the counter looked rather perplexed when I inquired as to why ice cream rolls were so popular. And after tasting these, I think I’m a little perplexed as well.
The process of making them is certainly an arduous, difficult task. The girl making the rolls poured bright orange Thai tea-flavored creme fraiche over a cold sheet. The liquid immediately solidified into a frozen sort of dough, then she sprinkled lychee morsels on top and rapidly scraped ribbons into scrolls. She tucked them into a frozen yogurt cup, topped them with little chunks of soft powdered mochi, and added a thin drizzle of condensed milk.
I loved the sweet Thai tea flavor, like English breakfast tea elevated to a dessert level. The entire combination of lychee with mochi and the ice cream complemented each other to create a sublime treat. However, if you handed me Thai tea ice cream covered in these toppings, I would be just as delighted. No doubt these ice cream rolls are Instagram-worthy and revolutionary in their presentation, but the flavors remain simple.
Tuesday morning I tried avocado toast for the second time, curious to understand why this dish is so noteworthy these days. I wonder if it’s a clean eating sort of staple. Avocado is the new butter spread, and The Smith Restaurant slathered at least two avocados on rustic wheat toast, the pale green mass blended with lemon juice, pepper, and salt. The heap of cabbage on top created an elegant presentation of a relatively simple meal. I would have preferred a better ratio of bread to avocado since the bread failed to support the avocado’s overwhelming presence, but as an avocado skeptic–I’d say I might be won over by this dish.