Ice cream and sorbet transformed into often liquor-laced 'cone-tails,' brazenly and brilliantly bringing together ingredients like Icelandic-inspired skyr with gin, mezcal with ghost peppers, or five cheeses with blueberries: Licky Chan is the ice cream parlour of our freshly churned fantasies, with a cow-to-cone philosophy that embraces the coolest kind of creativity.
Licky Chan is worth visiting simply to explore the space, one of the properties that have endured for decades on Yap Ah Shak Road, with narrow corridors spread across two floors that look like they began crumbling two generations ago. The fundamental character of the structure has been preserved, still a work in progress but spruced up with fun touches like a colourful ball pit and a tattoo parlour, playfully named The Poke Guy. A back exit leads to Joloko, Licky Chan's Afro-Caribbean sister restaurant.
Licky Chan adopts an astonishingly ambitious approach. Each flavour is unique, banishing cookie-cutter cookies-&-cream cliches, refusing to take the easier, more familiar paths of pandan or peanut butter, Nutella or Rocher.
The care and conscientiousness start from the source of the milk, from Pahang-raised, grass-fed cows, received by Licky Chan every morning and pasteurised by the team here. Non-refined sugars supply sweetness across the spectrum of flavours, including some vegan varieties (RM14.80 for the first scoop of an alcoholic flavour, RM8.20 for each additional scoop; RM9.80 for the first non-alcoholic scoop; RM5.80 for each additional scoop).
It's clear that Licky Chan had a blast not only creating the flavours but naming them, with monikers like Nothing Good Happens After 8AM, Cone-ichiwa, and Sweet Dreams Are Made Of Cheese. Sample a few before choosing your order, while a soundtrack of Paula Cole and P.M. Dawn blasts from the speakers.
Licky Chan imbues lovingly layered nuances into its ice cream, complex but comforting. Each experiment is a triumph of taste and texture, with beautifully harmonised proportions of everything from pistachios to peppercorns to pickles. The result: Indulgently luscious ice cream, smooth but natural-tasting, rich in delicious dynamics and dimensions. You can genuinely taste every major element in synergistic alchemy with each other, always gentle and graceful, never overbearing or off-putting.
With more than 20 flavours, there's something for everyone. We found ourselves loving the combinations with boozy subtleties - the Rum Rhapsody of Bacardi with tonka beans and burnt butter; the Plantation Three Star Rum with cold-brewed Ethiopian coffee, coconut and cacao nibs; the Bombay Sapphire Gin with tonic, calamansi and olive oil; the Icelandic-style, Malaysian-made, yogurt-like skyr with peach, elderflower and gin; the Sauvignon Blanc with pear and lotus paste; the sake and wasabi with white chocolate and strawberries.
Even the teetotaller flavours have a blissful kick to them - five cheeses (Parmesan, mascarpone, gorgonzola, goat's and cream) with honey and walnuts; almond milk with chai tea, cashews and turmeric; banana bread with dates; fresh milk with soy sauce; silver tip tea with fig leaves and toasted rice.
The most memorable flavours aren't afraid to leave a mark. Koch El mezcal with chocolate and ghost peppers that'll singe your taste buds; yogurt with pickled beetroot and Szechuan and other peppercorns; house-fermented hibiscus kombucha with passionfruit and vanilla.
With each serving comes a cheeky cross between waffle cones and fortune cookies, with a sometimes-cryptic, always-cheerful message hidden inside. The Licky Chan experience is a joyous balm in these times.
The talents of the Licky Chan team extend to baking with booze, with cakes that wed white chocolate mousse with black sesame cream and Dewar's 12 year aged whisky, Martell VSOP with almond sponge and chestnut mousse. All respectable liquors for the desserts and drinks, including tall, chilly beer floats. Alternatively, natural wines - offered by both glass and bottle - might lure us to linger here for hours.
24, Jalan Yap Ah Shak, Dang Wangi, 50100 Kuala Lumpur. Aims to eventually open daily, midday to midnight.