One of the best things about the summer is wrapping your tongue around a golden, crunchy cone, filled with an explosion of different flavours, some fruity, others chocolatey, while some perhaps more on the nutty side. As the sun glares down and the heat intensifies, what better way to cool down than by devouring that frozen goodness, one lick at a time? However, passionate ice-cream enthusiasts used to top-quality gelatos and ice-creams of every flavour imaginable, may find themselves struggling in China. Ice-cream culture as we know it in most Western countries is just not up there on the same scale in China – at least for now. This is surprising, since ice-cream was actually invented here over three thousand years ago. Well, at least its foundations were. It is believed that the emperors were the first to enjoy a mixture of snow, fruit, wine and honey some 3,000 years ago, hence creating the foundations of the product we know and love today.
But the days when one had to make do with a sweet corn or green bean flavoured ice pops are a thing of the past in most major Chinese cities these days. More and more foreign ice-cream companies have spread to China, most notably Haagen-Dazs and Dairy Queen, bringing with them not only a wider range of ice-creams but helping to spread the notion of ice-cream parlour culture so popular in the West. Now that the summer heat has crash landed on the doorstep, there’s never been a better time to know where the nearest frozen oasis is located. Here’s a list of some of the best places in Chengdu to get your ice-cream fix.
Swensen’s 双胜冰淇淋西餐厅View In Map
Swensen’s is a global ice-cream chain that first started out in San Francisco in 1948. From the beginning, the company has stressed three things: quality, quantity and value for money. When compared to Haagen-Dazs, the prices at Swensen’s are more reasonable, but with ice-creams ranging from about 35-50 RMB, cheap isn’t exactly the best adjective. However, their menu does boast a good selection of classic ice-cream flavours and frozen treats, from standard scoop ice-creams and classical sundaes, to milkshakes, banana splits and more. Customers can build their own sundaes using a choice of ice-cream, syrups and toppings and menus conveniently have both English and Chinese. There’s also plenty of seating spread over three floors, including a number of outdoor tables, with free wireless internet. Besides its mouth-watering concoctions of frozen desserts, another perk of Swensen’s is its secluded location down an alleyway just off the busy, brightly lit Chunxi Lu. Chocolate and coffee ice-cream with butterscotch, fudge, mixed almonds and whipped cream anyone?
Add: 8 Jinhua Guan, 40 Chunxi Lu Beiduan., Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8665 5578
Bellagio Café鹿港小镇 View In Map
Bellagio is a Taiwanese chain restaurant which serves not only a wide selection of humongous shaved ice desserts, but a range of Chinese style food with a Taiwanese twist. However, most people come here to try out the colossal mountains of shaved ice that come served in a range of flavours such as mango, strawberry, kiwi, and peanut. Of course there’s also the more traditional semi-sweet red bean ice mountain drenched with condensed milk. Bellagio’s dessert portions are generally huge, yet moderately priced at around 25 RMB.
Add: Ground Floor, Bailian Tianfu Mall, 9 Kehua Zhonglu, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8525 4321
Opening hrs: 11:00-01:00
Founded by two Polish immigrants in New York in 1961, Haagen-Dazs has grown into a global ice-cream emporium, which includes not only pricey ice-cream shops, but countless products in the frozen departments of almost all Western supermarkets. Treating yourself to a dose of Haagen-Dazs does not come cheap anywhere in the world, but at the same time the quality and choice of their ice-creams is one of the main reasons of their success. There are currently two branches in Chengdu, one at Zhongshan Plaza and the other at Xida Jie. Their impressive menu includes a range of ice-creams and sorbets by the scoop, as well as a heavenly selection of ice-cream desserts such as the Royal Monte Carlo, a serving of coffee and Dulce de Leche ice-cream smothered with almonds, walnuts and caramel syrup. Don’t come with a light wallet though.
Zhongshan branchView In Map
Add: Chunxi Lu, Zhongshan Plaza, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8666 4491
Xi Dajie BranchView In Map
Add: 1 Xi Dajie, Xin Chengshi Square, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8663 5675
Dairy Queen 冰雪皇后 View In Map
American ice-cream giant Dairy Queen has been taking the Chinese ice-cream market by storm, opening hundreds of branches across the country. Chengdu also has its fair share of branches. Dairy Queen’s ice cream is much cheaper than rivals like Haagen Dazs, but at the same time there is a notable difference in the quality. Their “Snow Blizzards” are extremely popular and cost around 25 RMB. Customers can choose from a range of flavours such as chocolate, nuts etc. However, overall the selection is quite limited and the ice-cream is too much on the sweet and artificial for some tastes. Below are some, not all, of the Dairy Queen branches in Chengdu.
Add: B1 New World Department Store, 8 Shuncheng Dajie, Yanshikou, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8667 9563
Add: 5 Kejiaxiang, Chunxi Lu, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8667 7366
Hongxing Lu Branch:
Add: Ground Floor, Ito Yokado, 8 Kejia Xiang, Hongxing Lu Sanduan, Chengdu
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