From the entrance between Target and Nordstrom Rack, up the escalator, past the Cinnabon and across from Forever 21 there is a young man, whose biceps must be burning, scraping ice cream into rolls, again and again, and stacking them inside a curved waffle, fitted as a sleeve inside a paper cup.
Food trends fly around the globe fast these days, so it’s not surprising that two Asian-born food trends, the Thai-style rolled ice cream and the Hong Kong-style bubble waffle, land inside the same mall in the suburbs.
Where traditional waffles feature indentations, these waffles puff out instead (they’re also called puffles). The flexible waffles bend around the cup, creating a wall to lean against for not only ice cream, but toppings such as pineapple jelly, Pocky sticks, mochi, assorted fruits and cookies, plus whipped cream and syrups.
Iron Ice in Centreville flavors waffles with chocolate and matcha, and offers standard ice cream. Kokee Tea, with various locations across the region, sells sno cream. Most of these shops also serve a slate of Asian desserts: milk teas, smoothies, slushies, milkshakes and whatever else pops up on Instagram. Breaking out this summer are chillers, or pouch drinks, which are plastic bags fitted with a straw and filled with juice and chunks of fruit (and in some cases, booze).
At Springfield Town Center’s Panda House, the waffle game extends to what looks like a standard ice cream cone, but stretched wider and taller and not completely closed, therefore welcoming even more ice cream and another waffle mimicking a hard taco shell, just like the Choco Taco. Inspiration can come from the commercial ice box, too.
WHERE TO FIND BUBBLE WAFFLES
Panda Tea House
6763 Springfield Mall, Springfield; facebook.com/tiantianpanda1
13814-D Braddock Road, Centreville; facebook.com/pg/IronIceCompany
Multiple locations; kokeetea.com