is it an ice cream? is it a bun? is it an ice cream in a bun?
Food trends: how do you spot them? Who sets them? And – most of all – what is it that makes food become so popular that people talk about it, queue for it, and Instagram it like there’s no tomorrow? Well, as a trend watcher myself, I believe that there’s a combination of good ingredients that are put together in an inspired manner, an element of novelty and perfect timing.
When I first heard about the opening of Mamasons in London, I thought: yeah right, just another ice cream parlour. What could be so special about it? Well, as it proves, I was about to find out. So I went there to talk with one of the founders, to taste their new ice cream and to find out the story behind it.
I arrived at Mamasons on a sunny Friday, just before noon. I was welcomed by Moya – the product developer. He was busy talking to customers, making fresh cones and inviting everyone to test the ‘ube’: a purple potato ice cream. While I was waiting to be served, a couple of trays with freshly baked milk buns just arrived from the bakery next door. The smell was out of this world – I felt like I was suddenly transported straight back in my mum’s kitchen. ‘I’m definitely going to have one of these’ – I said to myself. Then I saw what other customers were having: black coconut ice cream, matcha tea ice cream, calamansi sorbet. Oh my, they all sounded and looked so good! I wanted to taste them all.
I start with ‘bilog’- the house special. That’s ‘ice cream in a bun’ for you and me. Think hot, milky bun, just a bit crispy on the outside and soft when you bite. And then: boom! Purple potato ice cream inside. Cold – as it should be. Now if that’s not magic – then I don’t know what is. So I start asking questions. I find out that yes, that’s the Filipino ‘dirty ice cream’. And it is called so because in the Philippines the ice cream is traditionally sold from ice cream carts by street vendors. There’s nothing really ‘dirty’ about it.
Mamasons is a family business. And you can definitely feel a certain familiarity from the moment you step in: Moya is at the till, his sister helps with the milk buns, a friend just pops in to ask if they need any help. It feels cozy and good. And then, everything is made in house, from scratch, fresh every day: the ice creams, those fabulous buns and the ice cream cones. No additives, no food colouring, no nonsense. Just pure joy to listen to such passionate people and have a taste of the Philippine’s culinary heritage.
More than that – you’ll probably wonder? Well sort of. Of course, you can try the black coconut ice cream (hint: it comes in black cone too – and it is super yum!), the calamansi sorbet (my favourite) or the very popular Matcha tea ice cream. Or you could ask for a ‘Halo-Halo’. You’ll know what I mean.
Maybe Mamason’s ice cream in a bun (or ‘bilog’ – if you wish to use its original name) is the next food trend. There are good ingredients involved there, plenty of passion, something new and perfect timing. Or maybe I’m wrong, how could I know? But what I do know is that it’s totally worth a trip to Camden Town. Just make sure to be there early. They make only 30 of them each day, and it’s very likely to sell out before noon.
Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream
91 Kentish Town Road, Camden, NW1 8NY
020 7267 1871