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Ice Cream, Thai-Style

Michael Babcock, August 26th, 2010

Ice cream in Thailand? Readers of this blog know our love of street food. I’d like to talk a bit today about one of my favorites – coconut ice cream.

Thai Ice Cream Vendor

Thai ice cream vendor

We do get excellent coconut ice cream in several restaurants: My Choice in Bangkok has a particularly good one.  A. Mallika (see Favorite Bangkok Restaurants about mid-page) has a good one as well, served in a young coconut, if you desire.

Aside from restaurants, though, you quite often see street vendors with ice cream carts, and there’s some very delicious ice cream to be found here.

Serving Out Ice Cream

Vendor serving ice cream

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

Typically what they serve is coconut ice cream, though occasionally you’ll find other flavors, such as mango. On rare occasions you’ll find a commercial product but more typically the carts are selling home-made coconut ice cream, probably made by the vendor himself (or herself). I’ve seen these carts nearly everywhere – on busy Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok right at Soi 55 (Thong Lo), in national park areas, in sleepy country villages and on the street next to major markets (such as a particularly tasty and memorable coconut ice cream vendor outside of Worarat market in Chiang Mai) or in the market itself (as at Don Wai market, in Nakhan Pathom). The cost is usually 10 baht for a cup of ice cream, so about 35 cents U.S.

Ice Cream Accompaniments

Further close up

Usually the ice cream tastes dairy free to me, so made completely with coconut milk. The texture is usually not the same as a milk/cream-based ice cream and not quite that of a sorbet – it’s a refreshing cross between the two. Sometimes what is sold as plain coconut ice cream will have little bits of fruit or coconut in it.

Cup of Coconut Ice Cream

Coconut ice cream in a cup

There does arise the question: “Is it safe to eat this ice cream.” My rule of thumb is to make sure that the cart and the vendor look clean. By all means, if you are nervous about eating street food, be careful. Personally, I’ve tried these ice creams all over Thailand and never suffered any un-desirable effects.

All of these pictures were taken from a single vendor who happened to walk past the door of my sister-in-law’s townhouse in Samut Prakan in February of this year (2010). It’s a quite typical operation. One option is ice cream in a cup, as seen in one picture. Another, not always available, is in a cone. The third option is an ice-cream sandwich, Thai-style. This, in fact, is a real sandwich, with the ice cream being placed directly on a puffy, white bun or roll. In both instances you have the option of getting the ice cream plain (as in these pictures) or with toppings. The toppings include: sticky rice, candy sprinkles, palm kernel fruit and peanuts. Hopefully in a future Wednesday Photo I can post a picture of the Thai ice-cream sandwich in all it’s glory rather than the plain version shown here.

Thai Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice cream sandwich, Thai-style

After I finished writing this post, Kasma made a trip to Thailand to visit her mom (in June 2010); here are some pictures she took of the same vendor.

Ice Cream Vendor

Ice cream vendor

Ice Cream Vendor

Serving ice cream

Thai Ice Cream Sandwich

Thai ice cream sandwich

Thai Ice Cream

Ice cream with mung beans

Written by Michael Babcock, August 2010

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