A hot trend in foodie circles is chopped, rolled and frozen. Then they’re bundled together in a cup, topped with fruit or other sweets and made close-up-ready for any remake of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
But while these desserts seem to be made for social media, Thai ice cream rolls are eventually meant to be eaten. At least that’s the hope for one of the latest additions to the State College area food scene, Momotaro, which is readying to open at 220 W. College Ave. later this month. Besides the frozen delight, the patisserie serves a selection of coffees, teas, smoothies and baked goods.
Owner Ben Yu, whose background is in the restaurant industry, said he saw the trend catch on in major U.S. cities, and wanted to bring it to the rapidly developing State College area. While no official open date has been set, Yu said he was looking to open before the end of March.
Yu, who lived in Philadelphia and San Jose prior to coming to State College, said friends who went to Penn State told him about the opportunity in Happy Valley. The shop’s name comes from a slice of Japanese folklore and is often translated as “Peach Boy,” hence Momotaro’s peach logo.
But with this iteration, there’s a twist.
“We have the peach logo, but we turned it over, so it looks like a butt,” Yu said. “So it’s easy to remember. We tried to make it like simple, like ‘Momo.’ It’s an easy name; it’s eye-catching.”
Yu said Momotaro also makes cakes, macaroons, ganache and tiramisu, among other items. The Thai ice cream rolls are made fresh, like in the east and southeast Asian street markets where their vendors remain popular stops for market goers, as is the double-flavored mochi ice cream.
A self-described “restaurant guy,” Yu said with the plethora of options downtown, however, he wanted to bring something different to State College. If the trend holds, the spot may carve out a sweet niche like what similar shops have done in other cities and college towns.
“I see the potential here,” Yu said.
According to its Facebook page, Momotaro’s hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.