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Roll with it


My first question to John Syouthoum, the owner of Roll'n Yen Thai Fried Ice Cream (656 South Avenue), is "Why is it called 'fried ice cream' when it's not fried?" The house-made ice cream is spread out on a flat surface and then scraped into rolls and placed in a cup — there isn't a fryer in sight.

"Our cold plate is actually an anti-griddle," he explains. "Instead of getting hot, it freezes. The reason we call it Thai fried ice cream is because Thai people stir-fry everything. We're basically stir-frying your ice cream."

A machinist by trade, Syouthoum was inspired to replicate the Thai treat in Rochester after visiting Vientiane, Laos, where his family hails from. He researched the correct way to make it, and modified it slightly — the dessert is traditionally made with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. At Roll'n Yen, ice cream is spread out flat on the cold surface and then a variety of toppings are added in, like fresh fruit, cheesecake bites, or Oreo pieces. The ice cream is then scraped into rolls and topped with a drizzle of sauce or sprinkles and whipped cream — all for $5.55.

The ice cream is made in house and comes in the traditional vanilla and chocolate as well as a green tea flavor. And the shop recently introduced a Thai tea flavor, which is typically made using a black or red Thai tea, with either milk and sugar or condensed milk added. Roll'n Yen is also working on a pumpkin spice ice cream for the fall.

This is a family-friendly business — it is ice cream we're talking about after all. On any day in the shop you'll find some of Syouthoum's seven children, ranging in ages from three to 18, hanging out. "I didn't open this for myself, I opened this for the kids," Syouthoum says. "They like the attention and the interaction with the customer and the other kids."

With seven kids, a job at night, and opening the store everyday, I ask Syouthoum when he finds time to sleep. "Sleep?" he says with a laugh. "Who sleeps these days?"

Roll'n Yen Thai Fried Ice Cream is located at 656 South Avenue and is open Tuesday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. 363-5593;

Quick bites

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