They have it in New York, they have it in Los Angeles, they have it in Houston, and now we'll have it in Dallas. It's the ice cream sensation known as Thai-style ice cream, or ice cream rolls, and it's coming via a concept called Chills 360.
Ice cream rolls, also known as "stir-fried" ice cream, are like a futuristic version of Coldstone Creamery, where an ice cream mix is poured over an icy cold disc until it freezes, then it is rolled into eye-catching pinwheels and doused with toppings.
The concept is said to have started in Thailand, but it premiered in New York at a place called 10 Below. That's what served as the inspiration for Mohammad and Javeria Babar, who will open Chill 360 in Deep Ellum, at 2622 Elm St., conveniently next door to Glazed Donut Works.
Javiera is a pastry chef who used to work for the Sheraton in New York, and she'll be running the show.
"We were in New York last summer when they opened and we saw the lines of people waiting two hours just to get ice cream," she says. "I began to work on recipes and realized that it's a fun concept and really good."
As cute as it looks, it also syncs up with the current artisanal movement, in that your ice cream is made to order before your eyes. In fact, part of the appeal is watching it be made.
The ice cream liquid base is poured onto a plate that's set to minus 10 below zero, the temperature at which smaller ice molecules are produced to make the ice cream naturally smoother and creamier. After it's spread across the plate, it freezes, then gets rolled up.
The fact that the ice cream is rolled into thin sheets means that, once served, it is cold and yet partially melting, which makes it easier and more appealing to consume. Toppings range from M&M's to fruit. At Chelo Creamy in Los Angeles, for example, toppings include chewy bites of mochi.
At Chills 360, they'll start slowly, just with ice cream, and then perhaps add shakes down the road. They'll use a vanilla base and create flavors by adding ingredients such as banana or Nutella.
Deep Ellum was the obvious choice for location. "The neighborhood is growing like crazy, and there's still no ice cream," Mohammad says.
They're just beginning to renovate the building, which is a 500-square-foot space with one dynamite feature: It opens to both Main and Elm streets, so that customers can come in on either side.
They're going with a "mechanical" theme to the decor, and they'll have room for up to five of the round machines, which must be imported from China and which inspired the "360" in the name. "We'll love it if they're all in use," he says.