Ice cream is one of those foods that has a specific place of origin but has been embraced throughout the world, often with distinct variations for specific countries. The earliest ice cream is thought to have been created in the ancient Persian empire, but the frozen dessert is now consumed on every continent, even in cold environments like Antarctic bases. A much warmer place, Thailand, is responsible for the innovation known as rolled ice cream. Also called stir-fried ice cream, this trend has taken hold in cities like Boston and Los Angeles in recent years.
Now, this cold indulgence is available closer to home at Mekong Plaza in Mesa, just a quarter mile from the Sycamore/Main light rail station. Roll Avenue occupies a colorful space in the shopping center’s main corridor linking the supermarket and the food court. Bike racks are found near an exterior entrance facing the parking lot. A second entrance faces inward. The central location within Mekong Plaza allows the shop to serve as a dessert destination after a meal at any of the plaza’s numerous full-service restaurants and food court stalls.
There are two counters within the shop. The one closer to the hallway is associated with Tea Avenue, a companion business that specializes in sweet tea drinks. Although staff from both the ice cream and tea facets work together, it’s the other counter closer to the exterior entrance where the ice cream choices are listed and customers place their orders. Because of the way in which rolled ice cream is prepared, there are no tubs of various flavors on display. Instead, reader boards over the counter describe 18 different recommended combinations.
After customers choose, the staff then pour a viscous liquid onto a cold metal platter. The fluid freezes and is rolled into a thin sheet covering the platter’s surface. The thin sheet of ice cream is then cut into strips, each one of which is rolled. After toppings are applied, the result is essentially a cup containing six scrolls of ice cream intermingled with other vertical elements such as graham crackers or Pocky sticks. When fruit is present, it forms a horizontal top layer, and whipped cream can be added to any of the 18 options, all of which can be customized.
As expected for a treat of Thai origin, many flavors focus on Asian flavors like mango, matcha, and taro. The Mango Tango begins with rich fruity ice cream under a generous blanket of fresh mango. Popping pearls add a bit of textural contrast, and condensed milk adds a silky touch. There is also plenty of chocolate, banana, mint, strawberry, and even a little vanilla on the menu. In fact one of the standout choices is the s’mores rolled ice cream in which toasted marshmallows are stacked on a stick, adding to the vertical architecture of the dessert.
Although the default option is a cup of rolled ice cream, there is an alternative: A bubble waffle can be prepared with the ice cream scrolls and topping layered horizontally on top. The result is a sizeable creation for at least two people to share. Like everything at Roll Avenue, it takes a while to prepare. Pass the time by watching the process as it occurs right behind the counter or posing for photos under the angel wings painted on the wall. Like the shop’s decor, the ice cream seems designed for social media sharing. It helps that it tastes as good as it looks.
66 S. Dobson Rd. #145, Mesa AZ 85202