Thursday, September 10, 2015

Itim Lamoon: Traditional Thai flavours frozen in Premium Ice Cream

Slightly less than 2 weeks ago, during my weekly visit to Mega Bang Na, I chanced upon an ice cream stall like no other. It looked rustic, playful and vintage all at the same time, and after tasting their concoctions, a wave of excitement rushed through my brain, as it's been a while since a F&B concept in Bangkok grabbed my attention in such a manner.

Itim Lamoon's shop front at Mega Bang Na
Think of Thai sweets and you can come up with a few names. Mango Sticky Rice, Thai Durian, Coconut and the ever-reliable Thai iced tea. But having lived here for almost 6 years, there is much, much more. Take Yakult for example. Back in Singapore, we are used to Yakult being sold everywhere in assorted flavours, but here in Thailand, Yakult cannot be found anywhere readily. There is only 1 flavour, the original, in a tiny bottle, which can only be purchased when the Yakult lady appears in your neighbourhood. I reckon if I were a little boy in Bangkok, I will be waiting eagerly for this particular lady to appear at my doorstep everyday to have my favourite drink.

Yesterday, I spoke to Danupon (more affectionately known as Moo), the owner of Itim Lamoon, and was suitably satisfied to understand that his concept is to weave together the childhood memories of local adults and present them in the form of premium ice cream. His first signatures were coconut cream, Thai tea and Milo, and he slowly came up with more and more flavours, most of which carry a distinctive Thai soul. Some interesting ones will be the Thai coffee (Oliang), Taro coconut, Sala(a red syrup carrying a similar identity to rose syrup in Singapore but tastes different) cider with Lime, Rum and Raisin (which uses locally-famous Sangsom Thai rum) and even a Red Bull sorbet.

Even his toppings have a vintage feel about them, from crispy dough fritters to mug bean to rainbow sugar

Moo shared with me that his biggest challenge was to convince the Thai locals that local Thai flavours are not always cheap, as even though he tries to emulate traditional tastes, he uses imported raw material to ensure his ice cream are as good as the premium home-made ice cream we can find in other more internationally-established dessert shops. As a foreigner, however, I feel that spending 49THB on a scoop of good quality ice-cream (with a free topping, no less) that tastes uniquely Thai is more than worth it.

The ice-cream shop is designed to look like a vintage playground. Kids are encouraged to play with all their toys.

Aside of selling ice cream by the scoop, Itim Lamoon also comes up with their own vintage sundaes and drinks, all of which carry a Thai traditional flair as well.

Can you recognize this character from Kamen Riders?

One of their specialties really surprised me. I bet most of you understand Affogato as an Italian dessert that involves pouring richly aromatic espresso over some gooey vanilla Gelato. What if I told you the Lamoon Affogato is pouring rich Thai kopi-O called O-liang over their signature creamy coconut ice-cream?

Lamoon Affogato looks and tastes charming

The main reason why I have such a strong feeling over Itim Lamoon is because After You and Mr Jones Orphanage have been hogging the Thai dessert headlines for far too long. Both have legitimate reasons for success, with Mr Jones Orphanage depending more on their atmosphere than cakes to attract customers. However, both these big names have earned their reputation recommending foreign-style desserts to the public. Finally, Itim Lamoon has a concept that brings local traditional desserts to the next level, packaging it in a attractive way, yet versatile enough to refresh their flavours as frequently as they wish.

All said and done, at this moment, Itim Lamoon is certainly not the finished product yet. The ice cream is still a wee bit too sweet for my non-Thai palate, and I do wish they eventually come up with a proper ice-cream shop that allows customers to enjoy their pretty desserts like the Lamoon Affogato in a more comfortable space with their whole family. I also think they should start considering opening stalls in places where tourists have more access to.

If you do manage to see it though, please give it a shot, as it might transport you back to your long-lost childhood. The Stranger in Bangkok's favourite flavours are Thai Tea and Yakult Jelly.

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