Only a week after its grand opening, Snow Factory was already packed when I stopped in to investigate this new ice cream addition to the Delmar Loop. What could draw this many people to an ice cream place on a rainy Friday afternoon?
Could it be the bright, earthy interior, complete with plants growing in light bulbs hanging from the ceiling? Or maybe it's the handmade, unique style of Thai ice cream, a trend that has just recently reached the U.S. in full force? Probably both and more.
What is Thai ice cream?
Essentially, the ice cream is made on an ice-pan kept at 10 degrees below zero and consists of creamy milk, fruit and other ingredients depending on the flavor. It is then chopped and stirred until it freezes on the pan. Just before it's served, it's scraped into rolls of frozen deliciousness.
What's the story behind Snow Factory?
Liu learned the craft himself in New York City and brought it back to St. Louis, opening one of the very first establishments of its kind in the Midwest. He even works alongside his employees, dutifully hand-making each ice cream creation to perfection.
What can you get at Snow Factory?
The menu at Snow Factory includes Thai ice cream, egg waffle ice cream, crepes, and exotic teas and beverages. Each Thai ice cream order also comes with the option to choose three toppings from a list of over thirty, including berries, gummy bears, chocolate chips, and Pocky.
The flavors themselves are also creative and diverse, ranging from customer favorites like Black Humor, which consists of Oreo, brownie, and chocolate, to more traditional flavors like Ujikintoki, which is made with matcha green tea and red bean paste.
All the ingredients in the ice cream (the milk, cream and additional flavorings) are homemade, and then mixed with seasonal fruits like strawberries, lychee and dragon fruit.
Liu says, "The menu is constantly changing because of its seasonality, but that's what keeps the restaurant fresh and innovative."
The only catch: these beautiful treats come with a hefty price tag: each Thai or waffle ice cream is about $7—a little pricey for a dessert. In my opinion, though, they are definitely worth a little splurge, even if it's just once to give it a try.The variety of flavors and toppings to choose from, as well as the utter uniqueness and hand-crafted quality of each order honestly make it worthwhile. The ice cream is pretty thick and dense, but neither too sweet or rich that it'll make you feel sick afterward.
And all that is without even mentioning the mesmerizing effect of watching the ice cream get rolled up. The employees also put a lot of effort in to making the orders eye-appealing, and of course, very Instagram-able.
Liu wants to continue expanding his menu when he gets back from a month-long trip to Korea. There, he hopes to learn how to create gelato "roses," which are basically ice cream cones with gelato "petals" arranged to form a flower. After perfecting the technique, he'll bring it back to Snow Factory by December or January.
Whether you are going for the decadent ice cream, the chance to try something new or simply the opportunity for a beautiful Snapchat story (that will make all your friends jealous!), Snow Factory is definitely one for the bucket list.