Best in Bangkok
Nuttaporn Ice Cream in Banglamphu is more proof that trendy promotion and shiny shopping malls are no match for an extraordinary product served from a weathered old shophouse. We’ve previously covered several spots in Bangkok to sample a more new-age mix of frozen goodies, but when it comes to old-fashioned, Thai-style ice cream, no place matches Nuttaporn.
This tiny open-fronted parlour has been crafting ice cream from scratch for more than 60 years, or three generations — that’s almost as long as ice cream has been known to Thailand. Though the family business has persisted with its original, no-frills style, the impressive assortment of accolades and articles hung from the shop’s faded sky blue walls are testament to the high quality ice cream made on-site in small batches.
Nuttaporn’s ice cream comes in only a handful of flavours — coconut milk (krathi), mango (mamueang), chocolate, coffee (kaffe) and Thai tea (chaa yen) and, when in season, durian. Coconut is the most common ice cream flavour found in Thailand, but all of Nuttaporn’s varieties are made from the milk of fresh, young coconuts with no cow involved. Optional toppings include peanuts, lotus seeds, corn kernels, shredded coconut meat, translucent Asian plum seeds, hunks of sweetened pumpkin, sweet beans and coconut sticky rice, all Thai-style additions akin to sprinkles, nuts or hot fudge in the West.
The mango ice cream found here is made from what many Thais feel is the king of all mangoes, Maha Chanuuk, named after the main character in a tale beloved all over Southeast Asia of one of the Buddha’s previous incarnations: the Mahajanaka Jataka. Nuttaporn’s owner claims that her family is the only ice cream producer in Thailand to use Maha Chanuuk mangoes, known for their exceptionally sweet and juicy fruit beneath a distinct orange-red skin.
That was all the convincing we needed to order a dish of the mango along with the classic coconut milk edition, to which we added a topping of look chit (sweet Asian plum seeds). The ice cream has a light and delicate consistency reminiscent of freshly fallen snow flakes, and the experience is close to enjoying a fresh fruit smoothie. With very little, if any added sugar, the flavours of coconut milk and fresh mango burst off the spoon.
Most flavours go for 20 baht per dish and it’s five baht extra for each topping, but you’ll need to shell out a whopping 30 baht for a helping of Maha Chanuuk. You can take a cup of ice cream to go or enjoy it at one of the old wooden tables with matching stools that front the shop and look to have been a keen investment by the original Nuttaporn ice cream guru three generations ago.
If you happen to have a freezer handy, ice cream can also be purchased by the tub; 480 baht for mango and 380 for other flavours.
Nuttaporn is tucked into the south side of Phraeng Puthon Square just off Tanao Road, about a kilometre south of Khao San Road and a half-kilometre east of Sanam Luang. The only English sign is written on a chalkboard just inside the shop; ask any nearby shop owner for ‘ai dtim’ (ice cream)if you have trouble finding it and they’ll know where to send you. A host of sites are within walking distance, including the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Saket, Baan Bat, the Giant Swing and Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, making Nuttaporn the perfect midday sightseeing refresher.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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