Posted by Huang Xinyuan
What’s ice cream to you? Maybe it’ll resemble something below, a fast treat from a roadside stall or a packed thoroughfare from some mall.
Now for this - Singapore 101: What do you expect?
Kindergarten – check.
Hardware shop – check.
Coffeeshop – check.
Handcrafted ice cream – ….?
In the heart of Toa Payoh, in what is often dubbed the ‘heartlands’, lies an ice cream café nestled comfortably under Block 128. Flanking it is a large, rather typical coffeeshop and a motley array of hardware shops and other HDB fare.
Piqued, I asked Audrey, who is one of the main partners behind this venture, why they had chosen this place. She then shared with me how they preferred old neighbourhoods for their amiable ambience and greenery, the sense of community already present. When asked about the inspiration for Creamier, she mused that she’d wanted to “open a café since (her) twenties, a place where friends could come over and (they) could sit down and chit-chat over a cup of coffee or food.” Still, she’d only struck out with the idea after ten-odd years in the advertising industry.
What, then, held her back?
It turns out that the main obstacle was financial – as with a great many businesses and start-ups. Still, Creamier looks set to grow, possibly expanding in the future.
The ambience reflects the advertising and design background of its founders, evoking warmth and quiet with naked lightbulbs reminiscent of the hot sunlight peering through the windows. Paintings by local artists added an inventive touch, offering much food for thought. With a warm beige-brown atmosphere, the theme of being “handcrafted” was delicately carried off, ice cream here no longer a mere dessert but an opportunity for savouring. Savouring not only the various different ice cream flavours and locally sourced coffee but also time itself, and the chance to have a chat with friends. Ice cream here is all made from scratch every day, with localised flavours that gradually adapt with customer feedback. There are no artificial additives and sugar levels are kept at a low – they are looking into possibly unveiling no-sugar alternatives for diabetic customers.
I, for one, tried the jasmine green tea ice cream. It had an odd, almost biting initial taste but faded to a pleasanter milky texture with a sweet, almost Japanese flavour. Though unusual, it sure beat most of the green tea ice creams I’d tried elsewhere.
I left with an aftertaste of calmness, of a space tucked amidst dense crowds, to think, talk, or just sit. Hearing Audrey’s story was heartwarming – it was motivating seeing how she is finally on this venture, after having wanted to open a café for so long. Maybe Creamier’s also about realising what you’ve wanted to do, both in finding out what it is in the first place, then making it real.
It’s more than it might seem – Creamier is not just somewhere to grab dessert, but an embodied dream. Why not check it out with a friend or two for Christmas? You might find more than just ice cream.