For an ice cream lover in Houston, the ubiquity of ice cream shops makes it easy to feel like you’ve had it all: every kind of homemade small batch ice cream, liquid-nitrogen ice cream, ice cream infused with alcohol, and so on.
But at Kwality Ice Cream on Hillcroft, in the Mahatma Gandhi District corner of the Southwest Management District, you’re guaranteed to find something novel in every bite.
With over 56 flavors, from Asian fruit to refreshing paan masala, Kwality Ice Cream caters to palates nostalgic for the tastes of India and other parts of South Asia — and to those looking for a taste experience as bold as the candy-apple red finish of the shop’s interior.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, I wasn’t able to taste the ice cream in store. So after popping a Lactaid to protect my dairy-averse stomach, I brought several $2.99 scoops to my car as well as an original falooda, a dessert drink of rose-flavored milk with vermicelli noodles, jelly and basil seeds.
Perched atop my scorching black leather seats, the falooda served as the perfect reprieve – think bubble tea inspired by a spring meadow. The light rose flavor complemented the richness of the milk and the scoop of ice cream in the drink, and the jelly and vermicelli noodles banished the monotony that comes with drinking a traditional milk shake.
As I sipped, I watched as two businessmen stepped out of Kwality with cups in hand. Although I felt slightly disoriented by the row of shops with names foreign to me, I couldn’t help but appreciate how the ice cream parlor blended in next to an Indian grocery store, a Persian shish-kabob joint and a Pakistani-American cafe.
Other Kwality stores operate in Sugar Land, Austin and about a dozen other states, including New Jersey — home of CEO and co-founder Kanti Parekh, who has a doctorate degree in food science and is called, on the company website, a “food technologist and flavorist.”
Remember I said Kwality provided boldness? Well, even their vanilla was jam-packed with flavor, almost like licking the frosting off an ice cream cake. The mango and lychee scoops felt like biting into the fruits themselves, without the artificial syrupy taste you find in some ice cream, and the blueberry cheesecake gave me another tool in my arsenal to prove that ice cream is the most versatile dessert.
The mawa kulfi scoop, recommended to me by an employee, paired malai kulfi, or eggless Indian ice cream with cardamom, and mawa, a dairy food made with dried evaporated milk solids. Reaching for the proper adjectives, I can only describe it as a rich dulce de leche perfect for those with an especially sweet tooth.
More than just serving high-quality ice cream with fresh ingredients, Kwality Ice Cream provides a way to introduce American palates to Indian flavors. Even if you swear by the same chocolate chip cookie dough (which Kwality coincidentally carries) from the same few locations, these reasonably-priced scoops in the Westcroft Shopping Center are worth a lick, or two, or ten…
(Ice cream flavors in photo, clockwise from top left: Mango, blueberry cheesecake, lychee, paan masala, vanilla, mawa kulfi).
Kwality Ice Cream
Open noon-11 p.m. every day
— By Rachel Carlton