By Emily G. Peters
Los Angeles is no stranger to gourmet ice cream, but too many fall into the social media trap of being long on style and short on taste. Koreatown transplant Holy Roly manages to blend its ice cream with beauty, flavor and something more: being arguably junk-free.
“I am a big fan of ice cream, but also care about my health and ingredients. Most is made with a lot of cheap sugars, stabilizers, preservatives and emulsifiers and I wanted something fresh, healthy and entertaining,” said Louis Kim, owner and founder of Holy Roly Ice Cream. An architect and real estate developer, he first encountered the Thai-inspired rolled ice cream around 2014 through its international popularity in Korea and New York. He soon sought a way to make it appealing to a Southern California audience.
“We wanted to be an organic, premium, boutique-style dessert heaven,” said Kim, who uses only organic, non-GMO cream, milk and sugar. “A big difference comes from the liquid base, which, unlike conventional frozen ice cream, avoids large ice crystals and icier textures.”
Poured onto an ice-cold surface, that liquid base is hand-mixed with a selection of toppings, smoothed into thin sheets, then rolled into delicate scrolls. A garnish of Pocky sticks, whipped cream, sauces and a toasted marshmallow give these semi-deconstructed sundaes a whimsical touch, pretty enough to please even the grumpiest passerby.
And Holy Roly clearly knows its demographic—the entire setup of the shop prompts social sharing. One wall boasts an empty dessert plate to serve as the perfect pedestal to snap a pic for the ‘Gram; another is illumined with the neon script “holy moly is holy roly,” begging to become a selfie backdrop. But rather than contenting itself with being merely decorative, the Holy Roly team strives to invent even better and tastier products.
“We provide our own seasonal menus and add a new selection every month based on suggestions from our staff or Instagram followers,” said Kim. “They’re very satisfied when one of their ideas become[s] a reality on the menu!”
That level of customer-focused quality does come at a premium. An order here costs about the same as a slice of cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory or a couple of lattes at Starbucks. While Kim is working on keeping prices reasonable, he won’t do it through compromising what he puts in others’ bodies.
“Due to our main philosophy being organic and fresh-made, I have to expand enough to get low costs for fresh and organic ingredients,” he said. A third shop opening soon in Anaheim should help keep that a reality—with the focus always being on creating new ice cream experiences for the customer.
“Most of our customers care about ingredients, freshness and the quality,” said Kim. “We don’t follow trends unless it’s super fantastic and healthy.”
Holy Roly is located at the Westfield Santa Anita Mall at 400 S. Baldwin Ave. #2220 in Arcadia. For more information, contact Holy Roly at holyroly.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | (626) 623-6307 and follow along on Instagram @holyrolyicecream and Facebook @wejustloveicecream.