Milkbomb Ice Cream, the San Francisco-based ice cream shop known for its creative take on the classic ice cream sandwich, saw a line extending far beyond its doors when it opened in Downtown Berkeley Saturday.
Jan-Michael Manuel, co-owner of Milkbomb, was interested in the Berkeley location even before Milkbomb first opened in San Francisco. The spot, however, was rented to Ici Ice Cream instead.
“When we got the news that Ici was closing its doors we had re-inquired. We do have some big shoes to fill,” Manuel said.
Manuel explained that his vision for Milkbomb stemmed from his childhood in the Philippines when his mother would make a particular pandesal ice cream treat.
In addition to the famous doughnut ice cream-filled sandwich, customers can order a homemade scoop of several traditional and nontraditional ice cream flavors such as Creamy Horchata, Vietnamese Coffee and Ube – a Filipino sweet purple yam flavor.
Manuel added that there is also a vegan ice cream option.
“We have a variety of doughnuts such as the glazed, cinnamon, sugar and even brioche buns,” Manuel said. “We’re currently working on an ube pandesal bun, a popular treat in the Philippines.”
Campus freshman Tate Archibald said she was impressed by Milkbomb’s atmosphere as well as the people working there. Archibald added that the Vietnamese Coffee ice cream and baked doughnuts had a “unique flavor.”
Despite Milkbomb’s following, Yano Rivera, an employee at Almare Gelato Italiano, did not express concern about the potential competition.
“I genuinely think our stuff is as good or better than everywhere around here,” Rivera said. “It just seems hard to imagine that Milkbomb is better than us.”
Rivera added that Almare’s “traditional” and “fresh” Italian gelato makes it difficult for other ice cream locales to compete.
Fuad Baba, owner of IB’s Berkeley, said he was excited about Milkbomb’s debut and the chance to collaborate between brands.
“I’ve had a chance to meet the owners as well. They are a great, hardworking family,” Baba said.
Milkbomb’s Saturday turnout and customer reviews similarly highlighted excitement about the shop’s fresh ingredients and creative flavor profiles.
Oakland resident and attendee of Milkbomb’s grand opening, Kaila DeRienzo was impressed by the shop’s unique flavors such as Aqua Bomb and Charcoal Vanilla.
“What made it different, I mean honestly, the first bite of it was that you could definitely tell it was fresh, it didn’t taste store bought,” DeRienzo said. “You can tell they actually made this stuff fresh and it was a complete difference from ice cream you buy prepackaged.”
Milkbomb is now open at 2079 University Avenue.