Thai rolled ice cream shop coming to downtown Portland

Kady Chen has stayed busy the last few years. If you think raising a daughter while in college is difficult, try opening two restaurants in the process.

Chen opened 22 Below, a rolled ice cream shop on Rickey Street, with her husband, Yao Zhang, in August.

This came only a few months after the McKay High School grad opened her first location in April at Eugene's Valley River Center while attending the University of Oregon.

As she prepared to move back to her hometown, Chen, 20, decided to open her second location in her Southeast Salem neighborhood near Lancaster Drive S.

"I love this area, and I wanted to do something close to home," Chen said, sitting in her shop next to Sushi Kyo, owned by her aunt and uncle.

Thai rolled ice cream, a Southeast Asian phenomenon, has recently piqued palates in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.

The couple came up with the idea three years ago, while traveling in Mexico.

"We found this place that made ice cream on the spot, but they didn't roll it," Chen said. "I had seen (Thai rolled ice cream) on the internet before, and we decided we wanted to do it." 

Here's how it works: A liquid ice cream base hits a very cold cylindrical surface, that looks a crepe stone. Flavors and mix-ins (chocolate sauce, pineapple, passion fruit syrup) are added. Using two metal spatulas, Chen and Zhang chop up that mixture as it freezes.

The now-frozen mixture is spread super smooth along the surface, then scraped into coin roll-sized tubes of frozen goodness, almost like ice cream Pirouettes. The swirly tubes are arranged vertically and topped with frozen-yogurt-style toppings including whipped cream, candy, sugary cereal.

Flavor combos include green tea and Oreo; pretzels, caramel and sea salt; and Tropical Vacation, the Salem bestseller made with passion fruit and mango.

Zhang, 22, and Chen work in every role at the shop. The two make ice cream, greet customers and clean alongside their staff of eight.

When the shop first opened, the team played around with ingredient combinations. Then, the two owners and their co-workers met and tasted the experimental flavors, developing the menu together.

Chen said she's particularly happy with their matcha, also known as green tea.

"We use Grade A matcha," Chen said. "You can't taste that bitterness you often find in matcha."

She combines matcha with Oreo and strawberry, which she then tops with toasted marshmallows, coconut, whipped cream and Pocky, Japanese dipped cookie sticks.

Chen now is focusing on her third location, coming soon to downtown Portland.

Email Brooke Jackson-Glidden brookejg@statesmanjournal.com or call 503-428-3528. Follow her on Twitter @jacksonglidden, or like her Facebook page www.facebook.com/BrookeJackson-Glidden.

22 Below

When: Noon to 10 p.m. daily

Where: 4155 Rickey St. SE

For more information: www.my22below.com

© 2017 KGW-TV


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