By Jessica Nguyen
It’s June, which means it’s prime time to enjoy a frozen treat. If you’re looking for something a little different than the traditional scoop on a standard sugar cone this summer, there are several sweetshops in the East Bay that serve up a magical combination of unique and delicious in frozen form. Here are five of our favorites:
Tucked away on a quiet stretch of 19th Street in Oakland’s Uptown, Sweet Belly serves flavorful soft serve and freshly made mini donuts. Although you can order each separately, Sweet Belly has a sundae called the Sweet Deal, which includes both and lets you pick a drizzle sauce for the donut and a topping for the ice cream. There are a lot of choices, so you can try a different mix each time you’re there. If you’re not in the mood for something cold, Sweet Belly also has wonderful cookies and other pastries. Sweet Belly is at 435 19th St. (at Broadway), Oakland.
FREEZING POINT CREAMERY
Freezing Point in Oakland’s Chinatown is one of the only creameries on our side of the bay that serves Thai-style ice cream rolls. (Over in Walnut Creek, there’s Chalogy, and in Berkeley, you can get Thai gelato at Secret Scoop, but this is something different.) You may end up waiting a moment for your order to be prepared, but it’s worth it. You’ll watch as your ice cream is rolled and your toppings are mixed and mashed right in front of you. If you don’t want to wait, Freezing Point also offers non-rolled ice cream and smoothies. Its most intriguing house-made ice cream is its durian flavor. Durian is a spiky, Southeast Asian fruit that has an unmistakable smell and flavor that people either love or hate. Even fans have a hard time describing it; some say it tastes like a mix of garlic, caramel and blue cheese. Intrigued but not sure you can commit to a whole scoop? Ask for a sample. Freezing Point is at 349 7th St. (at Webster), Oakland.
MILK AND COOKIE BAR
The decadence is strong at Milk and Cookie Bar in Castro Valley. As you read through the menu, you may feel a mix of disbelief and wonder. The Doughboy is a donut ice cream sandwich, the Doughboy Shake is a milkshake topped with a donut, the Creamy Iceberg is an espresso shot over ice cream, the Crispy’wich is an Rice Krispy ice cream sandwich… and there’s even more. Whatever you choose, each treat comes with one “drizzle” (sauce) and one “crunch” (topping). Ice cream flavors are subject to change daily, but on our visit, we spotted cookie butter, Thai iced tea, Nutella and Kit Kat. Milk and Cookie Bar is at 18911 Lake Chabot Rd. (at Quail), Castro Valley.
NIEVES CINCO DE MAYO
Looking for something sour, sweet and spicy all at the same time? A block away from the Fruitvale BART Station, inside the Fruitvale Public Market, mangonadas are waiting for you at Nieves Cinco De Mayo. This Mexican fruit drink consists of chunks of mango, freshly made mango sorbet, chamoy (a Mexican sauce made with salted, fermented fruit), chili powder and shaved ice. To slurp it all down, it comes with a straw coated in candied tamarind. Luis Abundis’ one-counter shop also offers a lengthy list of all-natural, hand-churned ice cream with ingredients sourced from the farmers market. There are the standard crowd-pleasers, but also many unconventional ice cream flavors, such as cheese, burnt milk and corn. Nieves Cinco de Mayo is at 3340 E 12th St. (at 34th), Oakland.
The fish-shaped taiyaki ice cream cone has boosted the popularity of Berkeley’s Uji Time into the stratosphere. Not only do these cones taste great, they’re also extremely photogenic! The “cone,” which is crispy on the outside and soft like a pancake inside, is first filled with red bean paste and then with soft serve. The taiyaki cone tastes like a waffle cone without the sweetness. But don’t worry, your sweet tooth will be satiated with one of Uji Time’s soft serve flavors: black sesame, matcha, tofu and a changing seasonal flavor. There’s also the option of ordering a Japanese parfait, made with ice cream and topped with a plethora of treats, like mochi, Castella cake, a crispy crepe, red bean paste, corn flakes and mini taiyaki, filled with Nutella or red bean paste. Uji Time is at 2575 Telegraph Ave. (at Parker), Berkeley.
Jessica Nguyen is a Bay Area native currently living in North Oakland with her two cats, Chicken and Waffles. You’ll find her around town hunting down desserts and chasing whatever her latest food obsession may be. Her ever-changing hobbies include drinking tea, knitting and catching up on episodes of “The Great British Bake Off.” Traveling and discovering different cultures and cuisines have been an enduring passion of hers; she hopes to eat her way through a new country each year!