Monday, July 24, 2017

Guss Damn Good: Ice Cream that makes me go Wah Lau Eh!

It's been way too long since I gave out my "Wah Lau Eh!" sticker to any establishment (since Paris Mikki last year), not because there were no good restaurants popping up. In fact, the dining scene here is so exciting that the heralded Michelin Guide has chosen to feature Bangkok this year. That said, the volatility of the industry has made it increasingly difficult for me to be sure that the eatery I root for not only produces food I love, but also stay true to their spirit in the long term.

After brief meeting on a rainy evening over some coffee with Rarin, co-founder of Guss Damn Good, I felt proud to have finally found the next fitting owner to my little sticker. It's quite incredible actually, how the concept behind Guss Damn Good resonated with me. Rarin and her partner found their love for ice cream during an unprecedented snowy winter in Boston, spending large amounts of time chilling out in various ice cream parlours, eager to find out why customers were digging into these mountains of ice in spite of the freezing weather. They finally understood that in Boston, ice cream was not only a dessert, but an emotion, a memory. Ice cream brought people to a happy place, it actually reminded them of summer.

Following the revelation, the spirit of Guss Damn Good was born, Guss, a combination of the words 'gut feeling' and 'focus', and Damn Good, an outburst of exclamation when someone eats something delicious. Even their hashtag #feelingcrafted brings through a combination of emotion (feeling) and a description of their expertise (Rarin describes their craft ice-cream as more than home-made ice-cream, as every ingredient is meticuously sourced and every element made from scratch). Their spirit isn't dissimilar to my own, as I only endorse food that wows me enough to exclaim "Wah Lau Eh!", which can literally mean "this is so damn good!"

I tried the Maine Rocky Coast, which tasted like pop corn with salted caramel, on their cocoa cone.

You might wonder why the names of their flavours are so peculiar. And where are usual suspects like strawberry cheesecake and cookies and cream? Every one of Guss Damn Good's flavour was (and will be) inspired by a story. No story, no inspiration. No inspiration, no flavour. And THAT, my friends, is why their flavours sound (and even taste) so polarising. Some are so extreme that you either love it or you hate it.

Make no mistake, they do not hold back on their flavours. The caramel in Bonfire (inspired by the moment after skiing/snowboarding, when people gather around the bonfire to warm themselves and toast marshmallows in the cold) is burnt to the edge of bitterness. Bow Tie In The Bar has enough liquor in one scoop to make me dizzy for a few minutes. I especially love the story behind one of their coffee ice-creams, when their trials have resulted in the right taste and texture but not the colour, and decided to go with it and call it "Why can't coffee be white?" It's one of the nicest coffee ice-creams I have tasted, though it doesn't look anything like one.

Their take-home packaging is on-point.
Now to the important question, does a scoop taste better, or the take-home cup?

I was a little surprised when Rarin said that quality is more consistent in her take-home cups. As if she could see the question marks appearing above my head, she further clarified that due to the frequent opening and closing of the freezer door, there is a chance that the scooped ice-cream can degrade slightly with too much exposure to the environment. On the other hand, the take-home cups will almost always be kept at the same conditions without exposure. The key is PATIENCE, as we need to wait for the take-home cups to be kept under room temperature for 2 minutes before it reaches optimum texture/softness.

Rarin with my Stamp of Approval at her permanent stall at Ei8ht Thong Lor outside Foodland.
They also scoop permanently at Sala Daeng Soi 1, below Bangkok Screening Room.

So good job Rarin. I am sure with your team's dedication and and the passion you share with your partner to stick to your unique concept, the only way for Guss Damn Good is up.

PS. If you miss the smooth creamy ice cream baos at the closed Little Bao Bangkok, it might interest you to know that the ice cream was made by Guss Damn Good. You know where to go now if you get that craving.

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