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On a recent afternoon, two-month-old Milkroll Creamery hummed with activity. Seven employees maneuvered around the small, cheerful space (and each other) on East Colfax Avenue. Some were tending to the line of customers, while others were filming and snapping photos of the highly Instagrammable ice cream artistry taking place.
While Denverites got their introduction to Thai-style rolled ice cream via Chaos and Cream, a mobile operation that often sets up in the Source, Milkroll owner Mary Nguyen says that her shop is the only storefront in Denver dedicated to it. Nguyen—a Colorado native and current senior at Metro State University—got the inspiration to open her brick-and-mortar location after seeing countless images of the tidy ice cream rolls decked out with whipped cream, Pocky sticks (a Japanese candy) and other fantastic accoutrements on social media.
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Nguyen put her own spin on the trend by developing a menu that combines familiar options with a selection of fun Asian ingredients such as Koala’s March cookies (adorable little chocolate-filled pillows each stamped with a koala image), lychee, Vietnamese coffee, and mochi.
For $6.50, you get a customizable treat: First, you choose one of three “base” flavors—chocolate, matcha tea, or original (described by an employee as “a light vanilla”).
The base is poured, in liquid form, on one of three sub-zero metal plates, where it is combined with a “mix-in” of your choice, like pineapple, strawberry, lychee, or sweet red beans, then smashed and pushed around on the plate with a spatula until it begins to harden.
Once the base thickens, it is spread thin across the plate and scraped into ribbons that curl as they are pushed across the plate. From there, the rolls are scooped up and placed vertically in a cup and graced with two toppings of your choosing. Finally, you pick one “drizzle,” such as sweet condensed milk or honey. For a final touch, each cup is carefully studded with fruit, mochi, rolled wafer cookies, and other photogenic ingredients.
If you want, you can pay up to a buck more and getting one of a handful of house creations with names like “Milk-N-Cereal or “Viet Coffee” which have pre-selected base, toppings, mix-in and drizzle.
Start to finish, the process takes around 10 minutes—and that’s assuming there’s no line. If you’re with small children, be prepared to lift them up to peek down at the process. Fortunately, Milkroll will split orders in two in order to accommodate smaller customers—or stomachs.
3500 E. Colfax Ave., 720-381-6099