More often associated with curry and chili peppers, Southeast Asian cuisine is less noted for its ice cream. I was of this mind while traveling through the region until happening upon an attractive Bangkok location of iBerry Homemade. The small chain of ice cream, smoothie and bake shops have been thriving throughout the Thai capital for years and for good reason. Highly-stylized, the shops sell a seemingly endless array of treats that get points for both taste and creativity. Old standbys like blueberry cheesecake meet green tea pastry rolls made to look like sushi rolls.
But with more than 100 flavors, ice cream is their biggest draw. Flavors range from the everyday (chocolate, vanilla, coffee) to the unusual (creamy corn, black sesame, blueberry cheese pie). They also stock plenty of sorbets derived from regional fruits — like guava, mangosteen and jack fruit — that they rotate often so you're always getting what's currently in season. My favorite was an unlikely combination: salted plum sorbet. Purchased out of pure curiosity, the salty-sweet interplay was initially strange but remarkably satisfying.
Arguably more enticing than the product itself is the setting. Though it's a growing chain — with a dozen locations around Bangkok one in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya — iBerry retains a fiercely independent feel. Each location exhibits a totally distinct appearance, with unlikely chandeliers and other creative decor. The iBerry I visited in Chiang Mai (pictured) is set back behind a sizable lawn, and surrounded by sculptures and a giant Koonsian dog.