Afters Ice Cream: Unique Sensations and Flowers Abound
“Remember when you cared about your so-called ‘diet’?” I internally whisper, almost scoldingly.
Then you decided to do food reviews. At least you’re exercising more, or whatever you have to tell yourself to rationalize eating a doughnut filled with ice cream.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though.
Not that you could get ahead of anything at this point, tubby.
Ok that’s enough, conscience. Anyway, if Afters Ice Cream is anything, it’s modern. They have a robust online presence, boasting about 349K followers on Instagram. Outside of Ben & Jerry’s, the titans of uniquely-flavored ice creams, there don’t seem to be any similar shops that can claim as big of a fan base.
Also, remember that they’ve only been around for a little over four years (March 16, 2015 was their founding day). Similar to the very correct hunch I got with Mr. French Crepe, I figured they had to have gotten this big in this little time for a reason.
I saw a mountain of Yelp reviews, along with reviews from other publications, confirming their success was well-earned, including three mentions in articles from Irvine Weekly itself. However, these merely stopped as saying the ice cream and famous Milky Bun (we’ll get there, I promise) top their competitors by several country miles with their nuance and uniqueness.
What the people need, I realized, is an in-depth analysis. I wasn’t about to order six full servings of ice cream, since saving it for my mom to eat later would prove problematic, so I approached the counter and began to think.
They have the flavors you’d expect from a millennial-focused ice cream shop, including their own takes on classic vanilla (theirs is Madagascar Vanilla), rocky road, strawberry (with crunchy cookies inside), blueberry (acai blueberry, to be specific), and even milk & cereal.
All of these are well-executed from what I’ve read, but it was their more unconventional options that really caught my eye. I made my selections and began to ask for samples, judging each while I walked to the other side of the store to toss out the serving sticks.
They advertised this as something beyond the standard coffee flavor, and just by looking at its light and silky texture from the other side of the counter, I had a feeling they’d be right.
The kind artist behind the counter scooped some of it onto a sample stick, and it was an intriguing experience from the moment it touched my tongue. The first thing I noticed was the lightness of it; it’s not muted by any means, but it doesn’t try to be too showy. It knows its worth, and knows you’ll notice without it having to go out of its way.
Outside of that, I noticed it also had a sweetness measured to complement the coffee, making this a treat ideal for a warmer spring day, where you’re not quite ready to grab a sorbet but don’t feel like going for a heartier flavor like rocky road. It was, in a word, refreshing, which is something you don’t often get from coffee ice cream.
Jasmine Milk Tea
Imagine walking through a flower garden on an early June morning, light wind brushing your side, allowing the scent of each miracle of nature to float around you. You’re not drowning in it, but you know it’s there and quietly thank whatever force made it possible.
That’s what I tasted.
I mostly caught the flavor of the milk tea rather than the jasmine, but perhaps that’s for the best. The former is carried out beautifully, balancing between sweetness and refreshment, and the subtle presence of the latter emphasizes both of these aspects in precise ways.
Similar to the Vietnamese coffee, I’d recommend this for that June morning in the flower garden, or whenever you feel like you want to indulge in something sweet yet pleasantly light.
Who’s your favorite Sesame Street character? Mine’s Cookie Monster. We have very similar life motives, the same passion for the things we love, and we were even born within two days of each other! All that meant asking for a sample of my childhood hero’s flavor was more of a reflex than a voluntary decision.
The dedication isn’t just in the name: the ice cream is the exact same shade of blue as his majestic mane, outside of the cookies nestled inside. The color doesn’t indicate flavor, since this is a vanilla-based ice cream, but it certainly adds to the experience as you get a taste of the Oreos and Famous Amos bits, which blend together to lift you into a state of peace and nostalgia.
As someone who gets Thai iced tea wherever he encounters it, I’ve long wondered what it would be like in ice cream form, so I simultaneously felt joy and nervousness when I noticed this flavor. I’m so happy this exists, I reflected, but what if it’s actually bad?
I had yet to be disappointed so far, so I allowed my hopes to rise a bit before taking my bite, and it is my pleasure to announce that they’ve pulled it off.
It tastes as close to the source as anyone could expect it to be. In step with that, the trademark sweetness of Thai iced tea is there and getting groovy, but not to the point where it would get overwhelming after a full serving. Next time I come, this absolutely has a place in my order.
I’m ashamed to say I almost forgot about this one, which is especially sad because it is bright and it is noticeable. I asked to taste this near-disorienting rainbow, and it tasted pretty much how I expected. When you were a kid, did you ever go to a fast food place and combine all the sodas into one cup? This is the taffy-based version of what you wanted that to taste like.
I detected hints of fruity flavor, but more in the sense that I could tell the taffy flavors were fruit-based. I tried to get specific notes, but with so many flavors combined at once it’s a tall order. That being said, it’s all delicious so maybe it doesn’t matter.
The Milky Bun: Caramel Portal
Finally the time had come. The star of my Instagram feed, the Milky Bun, was sure to end up in my hands, and I decided one of the limited edition Rick & Morty flavors should be the filling.
Dark Matter Brownie Batter, besides being fun to say, would’ve been an excellent selection with its robust chocolatey flavor, but my heart brought me to Caramel Portal, boasting swirls of different shades of green (similar to the portals featured in the show), and some crunchy “isotopes” blended in.
They offer various sugary cereals, cookies, and other things like mochi as toppings (included with the bun), and I decided to go for the Afters Flakes, their house topping which is described to me as an “enhanced” and caramelized corn flake.
I watched the artist as he assembled my bun, and I noticed something beautiful: it was being heated up right in front of my eyes. What’s more, the “bun” is a doughnut, specifically a glazed one. My heart beating quicker and quicker, I paid and embraced the dessert baby in my hand.
It’s perfect. I could stop right there but you need to understand how perfect it is. Picture a fresh glazed donut from Krispy Kreme, except there’s no hole, it’s bigger, and it’s filled with caramel ice cream and crunchy cereal.
The hot and cold contrast, rather than being a nuisance for my teeth, was like getting a hug from the universe itself. Even as I felt my circulation slowing down, I demolished it until there was one inaccessible bit of ice cream left in the corner of the paper (a spoon, which they offer, would take care of this with no issue).
As your friend, I would advise you to not get this any more than twice a month unless you have an Olympian’s workout schedule, but you shouldn’t get this any less often than that. It may not have been good for my arteries, but it was vital for my spiritual well-being, and I believe giving it to all people would bring us closer to world peace.
Find your nearest location on their website!