Photograph by Edmund Barr
Ice cream sundaes, floats, sandwiches, and bars may seem all-American—indeed, a New Jersey woman invented the handcranked freezer, and the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair gets credit for popularizing the cone. But frozen treats were all the rage in the first century A.D., when Roman emperor Nero ordered ice brought in from the Apennine Mountains and doused it with honey-sweetened fruit or milk. Clever souls have dreamed up things to do with ice cream ever since. Mikawaya, a Japanese confectionery in Little Tokyo’s Japanese Village Plaza, claims to be the first to wrap it in mochi, and the following outfits have come up with recipes of their own.
Goldilocks | Eagle Rock Mall
A bright violet scoop of ube ice cream crowns a dish called halo-halo (“mix-mix” in Tagalog) at this Filipino café and bakery. The ube is a purple yam, and it makes the halo-halo—in essence an ice cream float—look cartoonish and taste a little like sweet potato pie. Served in a fluted goblet, the dessert is delicious and busy: Beneath the ice cream, a blend of sweet milk and ice envelops flan chunks, sugar palm balls, young coconut squiggles, Jell-O squares, sweetened beans, coconut jelly, and more. Much more. » 2700 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323-543-2676. Also at 2429 S. Azusa Ave., West Covina, 626-964-1811.
Mashti Malone’s | Hollywood
Orange blossom, rose water, saffron-ginger, lavender, and herbal snow are some of the Persian-style ice creams offered here, and they’re used inventively. For a Mashti ice cream sandwich, you select an ice cream, and they’ll bookend it with crisp wafers. The Malone is a large scoop of ice cream atop a zoolbia, a crunchy fried pastry that adds bursts of sweetness to the cream. » 1525 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood, 323-874-6168. Also at 143 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale, 818-662-0400.
Mateo’s | Culver City
Hankering for fruity Oaxacan sorbets, ice creams, and paletas (popsicles)? At Mateo’s, healthy(ish) banana splits are made with tropical sorbets such as pitaya (cactus fruit), guanábana (soursop), and nance (yellow cherry) and topped with fruit and strawberry sauce. Richer versions start with ice cream—rompope (eggnog), leche quemada (the owner translates it as “smoked milk”), nuez (walnut), or cookies and cream—and are smothered in chocolate sauce. » 4929 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, 310-313-7625. Also at 4222 W. Pico Blvd., L.A., 323-931-5500.
Saffron Spot | Artesia
Along with ice cream, kulfi, a dense eggless Indian-style frozen milk dessert, is a specialty at this Little India shop, and it comes in superb flavors: pistachio, mango, saffron, rose, and creamlike malai. Manager Smita Salgaonkar says that Indians traditionally beat the heat with rose or saffron milk drinks topped with ice cream and cooling basil seeds. The fancy falooda kulfi, served in a banana split dish, involves a scoop of your choice of kulfi on falooda (skinny, chewy rice noodles), rose syrup, and more of those basil seeds. » 18744 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia, 562-809-4554.
Photograph by EDMUND BARR