About six months ago, a spate of rolled ice cream shops opened up to loud — if temporary — hubbub. And despite having a real curiosity about what they were doing, we managed to forget about their existence entirely until tripping over one of them last week. Sota Hot and Cold specializes in hot coffee and cold rolled ice cream, and it’s based in the front room of the former Mai Village space on University Avenue in St. Paul, which it shares with the dim sum-focused Tapestry Restaurant.
We tried the mango plus sweetened condensed milk Mango Bango ($6), splitting the difference between the more austere fruit-forward menu items and the more classically indulgent chocolate-and-candy ones.
Watching the creation is a large part of the appeal of Thai rolled ice cream. An ice cream base is dumped onto an extremely cold anti-griddle and moved around until it begins to freeze. It’s then flattened into a thin rectangle, which is scraped up into rolls of ice cream that are dropped into a cardboard bucket and topped. In the case of the Mango Bango, that means fresh mango chunks and whipped cream.
The ice cream is colder, stiffer, and seemingly creamier than what we’re used to, and if you cut across the rolls horizontally (as opposed to smooshing them flat) you preserve the delightfully light and delicate layers. One Mango Bango was a satisfying dessert for four people searching for a positive conclusion to a mostly baffling meal next door, and it redeemed the afternoon for us. There’s novelty for novelty’s sake, which is fine but gets old; Sota Hot and Cold, by contrast, is doing something really delicious that should stay pleasing for a long time to come.
Sota Hot and Cold, 394 University Ave W, St. Paul (no phone)