Trending ice cream at Slothie Teppanyaki

‘Teppanyaki’ and ‘ice cream’ are not words that we would expect to see together. To me, it’s like talking about a heat wave in Antartica! Not impossible, but curiously intriguing!

We’d seen photographs of Slothie’s gorgeous waffle ice cream creations and still did’t get what ‘teppanyaki’ had to do with ice cream. More information was needed. As a politician once said, “Please explain!”

So, we popped along to Slothie Teppanyaki Ice Cream outside Coles at Westfield Helensvale where owner Dorothy Chu answered our questions. We soon found out what all the fuss is about.

Dorothy and Ken Chu have been co-owners of Kookoo Teppanyaki for the past two years, Ken the teppanyaki chef, and Dorothy working front of house.

“When they’d finished eating their teppanyaki, many people asked if we had ice cream,” Dorothy tells us.

“I had to tell them that unfortunately we don’t, but it set my mind thinking, ‘What if we applied the teppanyaki concept to ice cream? What would it be like?’”

After Dorothy’s father passed away, she wanted to start a creative business project of her own to ease her grief and find her happy place.

“I like working in a happy environment like teppanyaki. People get involved and have lots of fun. So, I wanted to create a new concept that would make people happy,” she tells us.

Keeping the key positive benefits of teppanyaki in mind, namely happiness and interaction, Dorothy began researching ice cream, and how she could help customers to feel those same vibes. She discovered rolled ice cream, a concept that began in Thailand and was trending throughout the world, and she immediately realised its similarity to teppanyaki.

Like teppanyaki, rolled ice cream is make on a teppan-like grill plate, but a frozen rather than heated surface. The maker uses metal scrapers to smash and flatten the fresh milk and other ingredients on the grill in a similar way to how a teppanyaki chef chops the food he is cooking. Then, the ice cream is rolled and served in a cup or waffle taco shell. It’s a process requiring strength, determination and skill; not as easy as Dorothy makes it look!

But that’s only the logistics of how rolled ice cream is made. There’s a whole other story about how Dorothy took the leap of faith and imported her freezer machine from overseas, how she made up base recipes, as well as flavour combinations and names for her creations, such as ‘Nice to Mint You’, “Rainbow in Summer’ and ‘Konichiwa’.

Combining the cuteness and relaxation of a sloth with the concept of how her rolled ice cream is made (on a frozen teppan plate), Slothie Teppanyaki ice Cream was born, a combination of the entertainment of teppanyaki and the sweetness of ice cream.

In December 2021, Dorothy opened her first Slothie Teppanyaki Ice Cream store, a glass-sided booth (think maximum viewing for customers), outside Coles in Westfield Helensvale, the first permanent rolled ice cream shop on the Gold Coast. Dorothy styled her products, business and venue herself, her pink themed shop embellished with special finishing touches of gold glitter so that it looks both feminine and classy.

To her main sale item, rolled ice cream served in cups and waffle taco shells, Dorothy added gluten-free waffle pops, milkshakes and smoothies.

“Now Ken does the hot cooking and I do the cold,” Dorothy says, laughing.

So, what about the ice cream?

Visiting with a friend, we tasted two different ice creams, a Chocolate brownie ice cream in a cup, and Heart Melting, a Slothie favourite with vanilla and strawberry ice cream delicately rolled and served in a waffle taco shell, topped with watermelon and strawberries, sakura agar jelly pearls, cream and rose petals. Of course, we share, so #noFOMO, but don’t ask me which was my favourite because I would have to say ‘both’! One was a dark rich heaven, the other billowing strawberry clouds… divine!

The ice cream has texture from the added ingredients, the balance of flavours is achieved through a really good palate (Dorothy’s), and neither of the ice creams were too sweet. I particularly love the flexibility of choosing or customising your own flavour combinations, ice cream flavour, ‘mix-in’s and toppings, (or you can go with one of the ‘Top 10’ tried and tested options). I also love the textures of the ice cream, that the waffle tacos are gluten-free, and the ice cream lower sugar than the norm.

And the experience?

“Serving ice cream to customers is the best part,” Dorothy says. “I love seeing the looks on their faces, eyes wide when they see how it’s made.” 

And yes, that describes our experience so well. Though we are busy photographing and filming, we are mesmerised by the process.

Hearing Dorothy’s story, we could say that ‘Heart Melting’ matches it well, a story of sorrow that through thoughtful perseverance and creativity has ended in joy.

All that is needed now is support – for Gold Coast residents to try Dorothy’s ice cream sharing the joy of rolled ice cream.

“After I tried Teppanyaki ice cream, I had to come back,” the next customer tells me. Yes, we agree. We also know that Dorothy’s dad would be very proud.

Slothie Teppanyaki Ice Cream, Kiosk K1, Westfield Helensvale, 1/29 Millaroo Drive, Helensvale Ph: 0451 843 931

Open: Mon – Sat 10am – 8pm; Sun 10am – 6pm

Open: Mon – Sat 10am – 8pm; Sun 10am – 6pm
Westfield Helensvale, Millaroo Drive, Helensvale QLD, Australia