It takes a lot for a hot fudge sundae to make it onto our radar; this classic American dessert is omnipresent and rarely better than “pretty good,” as mid-rate ice cream and regular old toppings are enough to render it acceptable to most diners. But the newly opened ice cream shop section of Sweet Chow in the North Loop has pulled it off. Its sundae combines ridiculously rich and fully flavored house-made ice cream with a powerfully cocoa-kicked hot fudge and thick, luscious whipped cream to bring diners back to what sundaes must have tasted like before the era of mass-made, mediocre sweets.
“We are creating the exact product we want instead of relying on a premade base [by making the ice cream in house]”, says chef Kirsten Poppenhagen, former pastry chef of FIKA at the American Swedish Institute. She adds: “This includes a higher fat content and the use of [egg] yolks, which also work as a stabilizer. Everything is made in house. From the base, to the whipped cream, to the hot fudge: even the cookie dough in our cookie dough ice cream.”
Placing an ice cream shop next to a cosmopolitan purveyor of international-inspired street food isn’t a new concept—anyone who has been to World Street Kitchen and its adjacent Milkjam ice cream parlor knows the drill. But it’s an idea so good that Sweet Chow can only be commended for adopting it as its own—it turns the restaurant into a flexible dynamo that can serve up a quick meal, a meal plus delicious dessert, or just a dessert experience at the ice cream parlor side of the business.
Flavors at the Sweet Chow ice cream shop change frequently, and there are often Asian-inspired riffs that should intrigue any dairy fanatic: Thai Tea, Toasted Coconut Lime, Vietnamese Coffee, etc. But there’s nothing wrong with the old-school sundae, save maybe for its massive size: with the intensity of all its flavors, it’s best split with a friend (or three).
The Dish: Hot Fudge Sundae, $10
The Place: Sweet Chow Ice Cream Shop
The Reason: The house-made ice cream and toppings has a richness that can’t be beat
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