KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In a cosy little ice cream enclave on 1 Mont Kiara's lowest level, matcha and coconut meet, mingle and decide that they like each other's company. Double chocolate chip ice cream gets an edgy lick of salt. Lemon and lime sorbet is a go-to on any hot day.
And every single scoop served is full-fledged vegan.
Kind Kones is Malaysia's first vegan ice cream bar, created by Serina and Ishpal Bajaj, the couple behind healthy eating, vegetarian lifestyle restaurant Raisin' the Roof in Damansara Heights.
It grew out of aspiring vegetarian Serina's desire to make healthy ice creams for her toddler daughter, Ajooni. "I think it's important for the younger generation to gear their palates towards unprocessed foods," she said. "I want to make it healthy and taste good, so if she eats it, that's meeting the challenge."
She decided to give her ice cream the widest possible appeal - whether that is for vegetarians, vegans, the lactose-intolerant, those watching their sugar, et cetera. Absent from all of Kind Kones' ice creams: eggs, dairy products, refined sugar, emulsifiers, preservatives, additives, artificial colourings and flavourings.
Instead, they are all based on coconut, cashews or almonds, or a combination of all three.
"There is no standard amount for the base ingredients, it differs from flavour to flavour," said Ms Serina. "Two different flavours may both be coconut oil- or coconut milk-based, but the amounts used will be different. We went through a lot of trial and error to come up with ratios that would optimise the ice cream texture for each flavour."
The ice creams are sweetened only with coconut sugar - or for some flavours, a touch of pure maple syrup or agave. The fruits used lend their own flavours too.
"The biggest challenge is getting the texture right without using any refined sugar, emulsifiers or stabilisers," said Ms Serina.
The lack of preservatives means a shorter shelf life. To address wastage, she wants to spread kindness.
If kept in the freezer, the ice creams can last up to a week. Because they are in the display chiller - which is opened and closed as customers come in - they can dry out a bit after four days. "So we take the ice cream out on Day 3 before it can dry up, freeze it without the temperature fluctuations so that it is perfectly good for consumption, and then we will send it to underprivileged kids so they can have ice cream parties," she said.
And Kind Kones will attempt to address the issue of generating packaging wastage by introducing coconut shell cups and dragon fruit cups soon.
There are 12 flavours usually available daily and constant kitchen experimentation sees new ones on offer all the time, at RM9.90 (S$3.20) for a scoop and RM17.90 for two.
So far, Ms Serina said, their bestsellers have been mocha almond choc chip, the amazingly creamy and well-balanced salted chocolate chip, cinnamon toast - the home-made sourdough toast is baked especially for this flavour, then crumbled into the ice cream - and raspberry mango coconut sorbet. She will soon introduce a cookies and cream flavour that is both vegan and gluten-free. Past flavours that may make a reappearance include Golden Milk - a mix of turmeric and ginger - and the ever popular durian.
Upping the ante are two crunchy cone choices, one of which is wholemeal vegan and the other, gluten-free and made with almonds (this one has eggs though).
Ice cream aside, Kind Kones also serves vegan desserts, some of them raw, which Raisin' The Roof has become known for. These include the raw dragonfruit and chia seed cheesecake, the vegan and gluten-free baked chocolate doughnuts and flourless sweet potato brownies. And further living up to its name … check out Kind Kones' book swap initiative at the small communal tables.
The bottom line though - the ice creams are good for body and soul, but do they taste good, too? Happily, the answer is yes. There is no missing all those additives that are not great for you when you are getting scoops of ice cream as creamy and full-flavoured as this. And that is the biggest kindness of all.
Kind Kones is at LG-7, 1 Mont Kiara, 1 Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, KL (Tel: 03-2011 5313)