Kekou Gelato (Queen West)
Kekou Gelato, at Queen and Spadina, is busy on an unseasonably cold weekday. But that's probably because it doles out unique treats that you can't find anywhere else in Toronto, except at the other Kekou location in Baldwin Village .
This large storefront features bright walls, a few table and plenty of room for the long lineup that usually forms in front of the counter as hungry customers clamour for house-made gelato in an array of flavours inspired by places such as Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand.
Glass display cases feature rows of made-in-house popsicles and ice cream bars. Some of these treats are vegan-friendly, but they're seasonal and appear only during the warm summer months.
Kekou's gelato sticks looks like Magnum bars, but the flavours here are much more enticing. I try one with white chocolate and pistachios ($4.75) and another with Vietnamese-style coffee gelato, dark chocolate and peanuts ($4.50); an excellent combination if I do say so myself.
Gelato, of course, is one of Kekou's main attractions. It's all made onsite and comes in an array of flavours. Today I grab a scoop ($2.83) of the florally rose water pistachio and also try some of the Hong Kong milk tea. Both are creamy, but have a colder mouthfeel than many other gelato places.
If you don't feel like a cup or a cone, you can always jazz up your order and get a scoop or two sandwiched between a cookie.
Or, go for soft serve. There's no plain vanilla here. Instead, you can get jasmine tea, almond tofu, tangy yogurt and passion fruit. The yogurt-passionfruit swirl is particularly refreshing.
As is a homemade passionfruit soda topped with a scoop of osmanthus plum berry sorbet ($5). But you're not limited to passionfruit; you can mix-and-match your soda and sorbet flavours to build your own customizable drink.
Unlike at some other local ice cream parlours, Kekou prides itself on making everything itself. If you peek behind the counter, you can see staff working in the back (along with a neon version of Kekou's feline logo).
And while many dessert places churn out crazily adorned, made-for-Instagram dishes, Kekou's offerings appear much more pared down. But its focus on hard-to-find flavours (like taro, sago and coconut popsicles) work.
Quite simply, Kekou's frozen treats are tasty and keep devotees coming back for more.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.