“It’s so cool!” said an ecstatic kid, wearing a yellow Cal baseball cap, as he watched a worker freshly roll ice cream at Icicles, a Thai rolled ice cream shop that opened a new location in Downtown Berkeley on Saturday.
Icicles, a Milpitas-based ice cream chain, opened its 13th location at 1812 University Ave. The University Avenue store is the chain’s 10th location in Northern California.
“The lively atmosphere of Berkeley helps contribute to the atmosphere of the store,” said district manager Michael Huynh.
The founders — Vinh Tran and Lit Leong — were inspired after trying rolled ice cream at a night street market in Thailand during a business trip and decided to open their own shop, according to the chain’s website.
Huynh said that they thicken the vanilla custard base with eggs in order to give their ice cream a “rich, creamy” texture.
The ice cream’s custard base is poured onto a frozen pan and then chopped and scraped until solidified at a paper thin texture, Huynh said. The ice cream is made to order and can be individualized by the customers’ choice of unlimited toppings.
Customers can watch employees roll the ice cream as they wait for their order.
Icicles offers a variety of flavors, ranging from the classic vanilla, or “Baesic,” and cookies and cream, or “Oreo Blast,” to more unique flavors such as fresh avocado, or “Bravocado.”
It also offers a full dairy-free menu that includes a number of sorbets and other fruity flavors. The vegan ice cream is fruit-based and coconut milk-based, and the restaurant offers gluten-free options as well. Meanwhile, the expansive list of toppings available includes nuts, candy bars and fruit, as well as Nutella and toasted marshmallow.
Downtown Berkeley is already home to several ice cream shops, including Ici Ice Cream and Gadani, which serves waffles and ice cream. Employees from Icicles, Ici Ice Cream and Gadani, however, downplayed concerns over increased competition.
“We are up to the challenge with our competition,” Huynh said. “We have built our name.”
Sarah Tello, an employee at Ici Ice Cream, echoed Huynh’s sentiment, adding that their shop is “well known in the community” and that other ice cream shops in the area haven’t affected their business.
Meagan Tam, owner of Gadani, said she is also not worried because her restaurant offers “waffles and lattes,” while Icicles appears to specialize in ice cream.
Huynh said he hopes Icicles will be a community for local families.
“We aim to share our freshly rolled ice cream with the Berkeley community,” Huynh said. “The Berkeley food culture is great.”