I took the picture above, of Bubblewrap Waffle‘s storefront, at around 3.30 of a Thursday afternoon in June. Such is the pull of these egg waffle cones filled with delicious ice cream flavours and toppings, that they’re still pulling in a queue worthy of stanchions and barriers (and at off-peak times) over three months after opening. When they first opened in chilly March, the queues rolled all the way back to Chinatown’s south-west entrance, a few dozen metres down the street.
The outfit originally built an audience as a stall on Berwick Street Market every Saturday and the essence is their waffles: of Hong Kong descent made lovingly with an egg batter blend, while resembling the appearance of everyone’s favourite packaging, bubblewrap. Biting into one is just as pleasing as popping a sheet of their plastic inspirations and then some. They’re thin and crisp, yet just soft enough to absorb the flavours of their housed ice creams without being so fine that they disintegrate into a gooey mess. It’s the ice cream cone 2.0, if you will.
Reimagining the ice cream cone as a waffle is one thing, however. Making sure the ingredients live up to the idea is quite another. Here, again, Bubblewrap Waffle aces it: the ice cream is Italian-style gelato, but the flavours do the Chinatown setting justice with notes echoed up and down the strip, from Matcha Green Tea with Mochi topping to seasonal variations such as the Oreo Special gelato we sampled.
Lord knows the Oreo has penetrated Asian junk food culture as well as any other US brand you could care to mention, with special edition Birthday Cake or Raspberry & Blueberry flavour Oreos as prevalently written in Chinese symbols as they are the Western alphabet (Believe me, I’ve looked: finding this Oreo pyramid at Kingdom of Sweets on Oxford Street last year was one of the most memorable days of my 2016). So naturally that was the major influence of my Bubblewrap Waffle order: Oreo Special as the gelato, with toppings of extra Oreos and Salted Caramel sauce, all coming to a pretty-expensive-but-totally-worth-it £6.99.
My mate, Aurora’s order of Vanilla ice cream with banana and salted caramel sauce was arguably more pleasing to the eye, resembling a white rose with gently wilting outer petals (such a series of pretentious words to describe an ice cream, I thought I’d never have the need to utter). Here’s her guest review of that particular Bubblewrap…
So there you have it: if you want ice creams and you’re within a blast radius of Chinatown, choose Bubblewrap Waffle to avoid disappointment and embarrassment if nothing else.