This is a Vancouverite’s favourite. A staple to grab an after dinner treat late at night. It’s location is almost out of the way, but a destination that is worth the travel. Away from bus routes, but with ample parking and a lighted up court yard to enjoy your ice cream in, it makes the trip all the more tempting. However without knowing about this place before hand, you wouldn’t think of coming in based on its outward appearance, as you drove by. It looks like a corner store, but flashy in pink; and stripped in green, white, and red on its awning. You are almost caught off guard walking into this huge space. You are greeted by “welcomes” on the wall, in as many languages as they had flavours of chocolate ice cream. An experience made extra special just by having to walking up the stairs and into the room.
The shoppe is an open area surrounded by freezers of gelato and sorbeto. The walls and counters had stack on stacks of cups and cones. So many that you thought to ask how fresh the cones were, despite them being made on site. I have only ever had a waffle cone here, but they also have the regular ones in its original neutral colour or in red, green, or blue. Behind it all were chalk-like mural drawings of different landscapes and landmarks labelled by country. Egypt and New York to China and San Francisco. Together this was all a lot for the senses to take in. It was bright, colourful, and loud. All adjectives commonly associated with ice cream.
Your journey begins by deciding what you want. All the gelato are the same price. You pay for the quantity and the type of vessel, if any. Single scoop, double, or triple. Cone, cup, or chocolate dipped. After you pay you receive a poker chip as your token. This is handed to the ice cream scoopers waiting for you behind the freezers, before you request your order. A great system to avoid the confusion of who has paid and who still needs too. Especially as majority of the guest sample over a dozen flavours before settling on the one they want to have a scoop of.
With over 218 flavours at any given time, you need to be creative in your offerings. You can only do so many candy and vanilla combinations before it gets tired. And that is exactly what they did. A few of the seasonal and majority of the weird and wacky ones are on rotation. I truly think no one orders those, but it is definitely an attraction and a reason to visit. Their names are fun to read and their flavours are fun to try. And this is exactly what our group of three did. With flavours like wild fennel, Vegemite, garlic, Aloe Vera, aged balsamic vinegar, curry, and pear & Gorgonzola with blue cheese; how can you pass up an opportunity to try them?
There is no rhythm or rhyme to the flavours. The oddities were intermingled with the classics. And each freezer showcased a variety of colours. I took the liberty of grouping a few of the flavours we tried into my own categories. Majority of them were either fruit, candy, or chocolate bar flavours. Vanilla with Reese’s Pieces, Clodhoppers, Tobblerone, or Butterfingers. For fall they had black teas, Parallel 49 beers, roasted chestnut, and pumpkin pie. The Asian selection included: corn, pandan, taro, black sesame, red bean, mango, dragon fruit, and persimmon. They also combined random flavours that strangely complimented one another: maple bacon, mango candied ginger, chocolate chilli, apple wasabi, lime tequila, and pineapple poppyseed. And had a sugar free section, that we walked right past. If you are going to have ice cream why deny yourself the full experience of it?
Until today, and until I had to write about it, I never noticed the selection outside of ice cream that they carried. Chocolate dipped fruit, dessert sticks coated in chocolate and nuts, colourful candy gummies, ice cream cakes and candles for birthdays, the same ice cream scoop that they use, and even bottles of water with their logo stuck on.
The staff are friendly and extremely patient. Given the fact that majority of their customers just go around trying all the flavours before placing their order 15-20 minutes later. You are able to try as many as you like with no judgement cast. That is the expectation when you have 218 flavours to choose from. Plus sampling is included in the price. Otherwise $9 for a double scoop gelato is a little on the pricy side. The only reason you would stop sampling is if you eventually felt guilty over the thought of taking advantage. In fact I don’t think they even discourage you from coming in just to try without buying. Though I highly doubt that happens, you can’t just try ice cream without wanting more.
Would I come back? – Yes. I am a fiend for ice cream and a stickler for easy parking. And this place has both of those things. With 218 flavours, and patient staff, chances are you would come back for more and to try more too. There was a sign celebrating next month’s feature gelato, chanterelle mushroom; that itself is worth a return trip for.
Would I recommend it? Yes. I was the one who took my guests here for the first time today. This place impresses and I have never seen a person leave unhappy. This is a definitely a destination not worth denying your cravings at.