Thursday, March 03, 2016

Aqua S, Sydney

Aqua S is an ice cream shop in Sydney, named for their signature flavor: Sea Salt, which is ... aqua blue.  Yes, the sea salt ice cream is blue.  This might set the scene a bit for what is to follow.

Aqua S opened during my last visit to Sydney, and was a serious rage at the time.  Lines out the door and down the hall.  So much hype.  So much Instagramming.  Why?  Well, they created a product that was extremely novel and photogenic, and thus, social media went crazy.  Baby blue soft serve, in black cones, surrounded by a cloud of cotton candy, garnished with caramel corn.  Yes, seriously.  I walked by a few times (including when I got matcha ice cream across the hall at Chanoma), and I was tempted to swing through myself, but, figured it was all hype.  Something that over the top can't be good, right?

On my recent visit in February, the hype had worn down, but, reviews were still very positive.  People comment constantly on how creamy the ice cream is.  I grew up in the land of soft serve ice cream, so, I'm always on the lookout for good soft serve (NOT froyo, ice cream!).  So, ridiculous toppings and colors aside, it went on my list of possible places to try.

A few days into my trip I looked up Aqua S's weekly special flavors, and it was a done deal: taro and rose.  I adore taro.   I had to visit, no question.  I dragged Ojan with me.

Somehow, even on a 95 degree Sunday, at 2:30pm, there was hardly any line.  The ice cream was great, and I'll certainly be returning.
Aqua S Interior.
The small shop is decorated in ... aqua.  Aqua, aqua, everywhere.  There are a few tiny tables, but even on a non-busy day, they were all full (except the one pictured here, which was filled moments later).  Most patrons take their ice cream and wander through Regent Place, where it is located, and show off their ice cream for basically everyone else walking by to gawk at.

And gawk they do.  For good reason.
Popcorn Machine, Fairy Floss Machine (cotton candy).
The menu at Aqua S is not extensive.  Only 3 flavors of ice cream, one of which is always the signature Sea Salt, and two other flavors change every two weeks.  You can swirl either of the weekly flavors with sea salt, but not each other.  Cup or cone.  One size.  And then, 4 toppings to pick from ($1.50 extra).

Topping choices are ... interesting.  No sprinkles, no chocolate dip.  Instead, they have fairy floss (cotton candy), sweet popcorn, popping candy, and ... grilled marshmallow.  Yeah.  If you opt for the fairy floss, it forms a halo around the cone.  It looks ridiculous, and I don't think makes any sense.  How would you possibly eat that?

Anyway, right behind the counter is a fairy floss machine, making it to order, and a popcorn machine filled with the sweet popcorn.
Grilled Marshmallow and Popping Candy Station.
At the counter in front is the popping candy and grilled marshmallow station.  The marshmallows are on sticks, and then just stuck into your ice cream, which also doesn't really make sense to me.
Taro, with Sweet Popcorn, and (Free!) Valentine's Day Pearl Balls.  $5.50.
I obviously went for the taro.  I added the sweet popcorn because I love caramel corn, and, the bonus free topping of silver balls, which are not normally available.  This was a special for Valentine's Day.

I kinda laughed when I got my cone though.  It looked good, but ... uh, how do you eat popcorn off a cone?  I picked off a kernel, and then realized the bigger problem.  My cone was melting fast, and I had no ability to lick around it to save it.  Within moments I was going to have ice cream dripping down my arm.  Uh-oh.

So, I set about eating the caramel corn first, picking it off as fast as possible.  But ... it wasn't actually good.  It tasted stale.  I didn't actually want it.  So, I just picked it off and ditched it.  Then I could lick around my cone, save it from melting, and enjoy it.  Phew.  A stressful moment was had though, I assure you.

Ok, so, sweet caramel corn?  Not recommended as an ice cream topping.  The pearl balls were fine.

As for the ice cream, I didn't actually taste a ton of taro.  But it was the creamiest, smoothest, soft serve I've probably ever had.  It was really just absolute perfect consistency.  Not icy, not over churned.  Just, perfect.  And it melted beautifully, albeit rapidly, in the 95 degree heat.

The cone was black, but tasted the same as any other sugar cone.  I was hoping it was chocolate.

So, overall, well, it was damn good soft serve.  I'd get it again, but obviously leave off the popcorn.  $5.50 for a cone though ... a bit steep (but it was only $4 without the topping).
Rose and Sea Salt Swirl, with Popping Candy, and (Free!) Valentine's Day Pearl Balls. $5.50.
Ojan opted for the signature sea salt and rose, swirled, with popping candy.  His was beautiful, the aqua blue sea salt and the pretty pink rose were both stunning, it was covered in colorful candy, and had some bling from the pearls.

The sea salt really didn't taste like much to me, it was sweet, but honestly, I didn't taste any salt.  The rose however was really quite good, which shocked me, as rose is not really a flavor I normally go for.  But it was sweet, subtle, and really, really quite good.

While many of the toppings at Aqua S are totally impractical, it turns out, popping candy really is quite fun, and just as easy to deal with on a cone as sprinkles.  However, $1.50 for a little sprinkle of popping candy seemed ... excessive.

His was also a perfect consistency, really quite good ice cream, and I'd gladly get the rose again, although I wish I could swirl it with taro.
Aqua S Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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