Icepan - Santa Ana
Lookout Pinkberry. Duck Yogurtland. Here comes another new, trendy dessert: Custom-made organic ice cream -- a concept that takes the Cold Stone Creamery idea and nudges it to the next logical level.
To be honest, I didn't know what "custom-made ice cream" meant until I ordered one.
The first clue should've been the fact that I didn't see any freezers. There's just a menu printed with these flavors:
In front of me, behind a glass display case, were small covered troughs filled with fresh fruit and a smiling gal ready to take my order. My first thought before I timidly said that I wanted green tea ice cream was "Where's the ice cream?"
But what threw me in for a loop was when she asked what kind of milk I'd like. She said I had a choice between non-fat, low-fat, whole, or soy milk.
I was confused. I ordered ice cream, not a milkshake.
Then it dawned on me.
"You mean you're going to make the ice cream? Like right now?"
"Yes," she said brightly, amused at my amusement.
"Oh! Well, um, low-fat then."
What happened next was not unlike seeing a magic trick for the first time. Into a beaker she poured the milk, squeezed a stream of sweetener, and plopped a few scoops of matcha powder. Then a stick blender turned the whole mixture frothy. She walked over to a shiny metal pan and poured the liquid into it. Two putty knives then spread the milk thinly over the surface.
Within seconds the layer froze into sheets which she scraped up, chopped with the knives, and folded over like dough to form a solid, rectangular patty. Then she started flipping, slapping and smacking the now rigid mass onto the pan like a short-order cook would a hamburger on a griddle.
Finally, she took an ice-cream scoop, gathered the finished frozen treat with it, and deposited into a cup.
I paid $4.75 for my 7 ouncer, and took it outside to eat.
It was cold. Ice cold. So cold in fact, it sent a chill up my spine and created a cocoon of shiver that enveloped my entire body. Its consistency was airy, and the taste of it was slightly sweet with a bitter finish; the strongest and truest green tea ice cream I've ever had.
Later I went back and tried vanilla with strawberries. The process is the same, except they work in the topping ($0.75) after the ice cream has solidified. (Watch the video above to see for yourself.)
It tasted exactly like the ice cream I make at home with my Cuisinart before it hardens in the freezer, except with more berries per bite. In other words, I loved it!
But it was at that moment I realized I just witnessed Icepan's most daring magic trick; they got me to pay $5.50 for a cup of ice cream I could've made myself.
3930 S. Bristol Sr. #110
Santa Ana, CA 92704
* Special Thanks to Monster Munching reader Jesus for this tip.
UPDATE: This location of Ice Pan has closed