In some ways, rolled ice cream, like most other desserts, is an art form. A chef puts ingredients together, chops them up, methodically scrapes them off a cold plate, makes them visually appealing, stacks them sky-high with toppings, and then gives the creation an equally creative (and always humorous) name.
In other ways, it’s a science: A milky mixture hits a cold metallic plate, gets knocked around a bit by two spatulas, and then almost as if on cue, the temperature turns it into milky solid ice cream. Repeat the process with pretzels and chocolate and some flavored syrup, and you have a sweet rolled ice cream creation.
Jerry Wang, owner and manager of Celsius Ice Cream, sees it as both. It’s why he and his business partner, Chuck Lim, named their store Celsius, after the methodical and ever-tinkering Swedish scientist Anders Celsius, whose temperature scale now bears his name.
As a reminder to always be “persistent” and “experiment,” the scientist’s picture hangs next to the register.
“Just like us, he [Celsius] was an experimenter,” said Wang. “There’s always something new to discover in ice cream, so we wanted to be a bit different.”
Any way you cut it, rolled ice cream is a dessert-lover’s dream, and Celsius, tucked along a strip mall corridor on South Park Victoria, is the local Sandman, backed by two persistent inventors.
It was a fitting place for Lim and Wang to start. Lim, who is Thai himself, made several trips to Thailand to observe and perfect the duo’s eventual recipes while also scouting and building their small business.
After settling on a site in Milpitas, Lim and Wang started building the interior of Celsius, piece by piece.
“Some of the wood doesn’t match,” said Wang of the store’s interior. “But that’s what I like about it. It gives it a quaint feel. Not like a franchise where everything is the same.”
And both men’s efforts seem to have worked, because the employees at Celsius make the milky science just as hypnotizing. Behind a glass wall, you’ll hear the “chop-chop-chop” of the spatulas and the distinct scrape of metal on cold metal (known in the industry as an “ice fryer”).
As Celsisus serves its ice cream up, it gives customers the options of topping the creations any way they want. Feeling like chocolate? One customer in line recommend the Cool Breeze, a mix of mint Oreos, chocolate drizzle, and chocolate cookie dust. If you want something a bit more healthy, Wang recommends the Mango Sticky Rice, which is exactly what it sounds like, mixed in with ice cream.
Wang, who has a background in software development, and Lim, who tinkers with exotic cars, pride themselves on making their food a bit above the rest. They source all their dairy products from Strauss, an organic, family-run creamery in Petaluma.
Wang said the organic touch gives his ice cream a “smoother and creamier” taste than the rest.
“They’re definitely Instagrammable too,” said Wang.
If concoctions like Breakfast Time (cereal and fresh fruit) or Strawberry Bae (basically a love letter to strawberry ice cream) aren’t your thing, or you’re somehow able to fit even more sugar into your diet, then the store also offers pearl tea and milk tea drinks on their menu.
Gushed one customer, “This place will make your desert dreams come true.”
Both Lim and Wang take as much time ensuring the quality of their drinks as they do the quality of their ice cream. They source their ingredients from the same company as the popular Boba Guys boba tea shop.
And most importantly, every batch of boba pearls is guaranteed fresh by Lim and Wang, who insist on making a fresh one every four hours.
“We work hard on cooking our boba,” said Wang. “It’s always warm. It keeps our product at a high watermark.”
And their young and growing customer base certainly agrees. So much so that Wang and Lim have sought input from their customers from nearby Rancho Middle School on new flavors.
“Like a focus group,” Wang said. “We ask them what they like and let them taste samples. We’ll ask our employees too and they’ll come up with ideas that are really unique.”
He joked, “Celsius is sort of like a Willy Wonka lab.”
Since opening in January, Celsius has also branched out into events around the community. They’re a regular fixture at the Milpitas Farmers’ Market each Sunday. Last month, Celsius served their desserts at the Rancho Middle School-Sinnott Elementary School joint fundraiser.
For next year, Wang and Lim have goals of sending the brand into the local food festival circuit.
“We’ve been very grateful the neighborhood has been responding to us quite well,” said Yang. “We’re always looking for more people to be aware of us,”
He mused that one day he’d like to see “every person in Milpitas,” eventually try something from Celsius.
“Just the fact that we can bring something like rolled ice cream from Thailand for people in Milpitas to enjoy here,” Wang said. “I think that’s a really cool experience.”
Celsius Ice Cream
1350 S Park Victoria Dr., #37
Milpitas, CA 95035