What Is The Name Of The Ice Cream Sandwich In Singapore?


In Singapore, the Ice Cream Loti, more commonly known across the globe as the ice cream sandwich, represents a unique take on the traditional frozen treat. Found principally in street food stalls and hawkers across the city-state, this dessert marries the creamy textures of ice cream with the convenience of bread, offering a quick, delectable snack for both locals and tourists.

The application of a block of ice cream enveloped within a slice of bread or multicoloured, sweet-tasting bread – often pandan-flavoured – distinguishes the Singapore Ice Cream Sandwich from its western counterpart that typically utilises cookies or wafers. The assortment of flavours ranges from the conventional such as chocolate and strawberry to the more exotic durian or red bean, reflecting the local palate and culinary traditions.

In its street-side form, the Ice Cream Loti is an embodiment of Singapore’s casual culinary culture, presenting a refreshing, accessible indulgence that appeals to people of all ages. Its unique composition and variety offer a taste of Singapore’s simple yet satisfying approach to dessert.

History and Cultural Significance

In Singapore, the ice cream sandwich is not only a sweet treat but a slice of the nation’s street food heritage. These unique sandwiches offer a glimpse into the inventiveness of Singapore’s vendors.


Evolution of Ice Cream Sandwich in Singapore

Historically, the ice cream sandwich in Singapore has taken a form distinctive from its Western counterpart. Instead of cookies or wafers, local vendors often use slices of rainbow-coloured bread, encasing a slab of ice cream. This creation is one of the many innovative responses to Singapore’s diverse culinary culture and hot climate. The dessert emerged as a portable, affordable indulgence that could be enjoyed on the move, quickly becoming a staple at hawker centres and busy street corners.

Role in Singapore’s Street Food Culture

The humble ice cream sandwich holds pride of place in Singapore’s bustling street food scene. Known affectionately as ‘ice cream uncles’, the vendors are a common sight along Orchard Road, stationed with their pushcarts and a selection of ice cream flavours. These sweet treats serve as a refreshing respite to locals and tourists alike, and they play a key role in defining the street food experience in Singapore. The vendors’ presence and the sandwiches’ popularity underscore the importance of traditional food methods in a rapidly modernising urban landscape.

what is the name of the ice cream sandwich in singapore
An ‘Ice Cream Uncle’ sells ice cream sandwich Singapore Chinatown

Ingredients and Variations

The Singaporean ice cream sandwich stands out for its unique combination of ingredients and an interesting range of flavours. Bread serves as the unconventional wrap for blocks of ice cream, resulting in a dessert that’s both familiar and new.

Common Ingredients in Singaporean Ice Cream Sandwiches

Apart from the typical ice cream components such as milk, sugar, and cream, the bread in a Singaporean ice cream sandwich isn’t your usual loaf. Traditionally, vendors employ vibrantly coloured pandan bread, a fluffy, brioche-like concoction, sweetened lightly. The pandan leaves impart a fragrant aroma and a distinctive green hue to the bread, making it visually appealing and adding a subtle, distinctive flavour.

Popular Flavours and Fillings

While the bread remains constant, the fillings vary to cater to a wide array of tastes:

  • Durian: Known as the ‘King of Fruits,’ durian ice cream is for the adventurous palate, offering a creamy texture and a strong, acquired taste.
  • Chocolate and Vanilla: Classic flavours that are universally loved, with chocolate providing a rich indulgence and vanilla a creamy, versatile appeal.
  • Pandan: This local flavour mirrors the bread’s aroma and infuses the ice cream with a taste of coconut and a hint of nuttiness.
  • Red Bean: Common in Asian desserts, red bean ice cream offers a sweet, slightly earthy taste contrasted by the sweet bread.
  • Sweet Corn: A surprisingly delightful option, sweet corn ice cream is known for its creamy, sweet-savoury profile.
  • Coconut: Provides a tropical, sweet flavour that pairs excellently with other fillings or stands out on its own.

The diverse ice cream and bread combinations ensure there’s a Singaporean ice cream sandwich to suit all preferences, making it a must-try treat for anyone visiting Singapore.

Preparation and Presentation

The Singaporean ice cream sandwich combines a frozen confection with bakery products, creating a unique dessert experience characterised by its inventive assembly and presentation.

Construction of an Ice Cream Sandwich

The foundation of the Singaporean ice cream sandwich is the frozen confection, shaped into a solid block. The ice cream can be flavoured with a wide variety, such as chocolate chips, strawberry, or local favourites like durian. It is then wrapped with specifically prepared bread. The bread used can vary from standard white to rainbow swirl bread, which is multicoloured slices of bread, adding a vibrant look to the dessert.

Serving Styles and Presentation

Typically, the ice cream is cut from a large block to ensure structural integrity and is then prepared immediately upon purchase. In terms of serving styles, the ice cream sandwich can be presented just wrapped in bread, which provides a textural contrast to the creamy ice cream. Alternatively, the ice cream can also be served in a cup, offering a mess-free option. The presentation is straightforward, with no excess garnishes, highlighting the dessert’s simplicity and flavour.

Culinary Enjoyment

In the vibrant streets of Singapore, the ice cream sandwich offers a unique gustatory delight, melding the coldness of ice cream with the softness of bread.


Sensory Experience of Eating an Ice Cream Sandwich

The enjoyment of a Singaporean ice cream sandwich starts with the visual appeal of its colourful presentation. The fluffy, often vibrantly-hued bread, which may contain food colouring, encases scoops of ice cream that offer a contrasting stark white or a variety of other colours depending on the flavour. On biting into the sandwich, one’s palate is hit with the sweetened and creamy texture of the ice cream which begins to melt pleasantly in the throat. The bread, often slightly crisp on the outside while tender inside, complements this experience, making it a multisensory indulgence.

Adapting the Ice Cream Sandwich for Modern Palates

In modern iterations, the ice cream sandwich has been adapted with a gourmet twist. Melting ice cream is paired with cookies or other baked goods that cater to contemporary tastes. For example, a hojicha flavoured ice cream takes inspiration from Japanese roasted green tea and is sandwiched between chewy chocolate chip cookies. These adaptations have shown versatility in preserving the traditional essence of the treat while embracing new flavours and textures that excite the palate. The sandwiches can be readily found at local supermarkets, like Cold Storage and Red Mart, offering a convenient way for residents and travellers alike to savour this frozen delicacy.

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Shaan Nicol

Join a Kiwi expat who's navigated Singapore since 1992 on a journey through the city's hidden gems and vibrant culture at bestofsingapore.co. From the best chili crab spots to innovative architecture, discover what makes Singapore a global hub through the eyes of both a local and an outsider.

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