Nanashake may sound like a new dance move, but it's actually a little joint serving up delicious vegan soft serve desserts in North York. Located right by Sheppard subway station at the base of a huge green condominium, the space is small but charming.
There's a seating area at the back of the cafe, but the action takes place at the counter where the soft serve is poured and the other creations come to life. Being a vegan dessert place, Nanashake's treats are all made with plant-based ingredients. Everything is freshly made in store every day, and only all-natural components are used.
The foundation for all of these is the humble banana (hence the yellow colours of the brand), but mixed with a cacophony of other delectable accoutrements that result in magical concoctions.
I try three different soft serve varieties: Strawberry Funshine, Spiced Date, and Rosey Pistachio ($4.99 each). The strawberry version is very refreshing and not overly sweet.
The Spiced Date is one of the most unique flavours I've encountered in a frozen dessert. Containing dates and spiced liberally with cardamom, there is a subtle Middle Eastern zest to the dessert that blends surprisingly well with the banana base.
Speaking of exotic faraway places, the Rosey Pistachio mixes the banana dessert with large ground pistachios (not powder form like in many other places) and is sweetened with rosewater. The rosewater flavour slowly builds at the back of my mouth as I enjoy this dessert, bringing to mind a Turkish delight-like aroma.
The star of the show is the Affogato ($5.98). The premise is quite simple: a mix of the Original Nanashake with a shot of espresso. The bitter smoothness of the espresso cuts nicely right through the banana's sweetness.
If you're into something a bit different, try ordering one of their secret items: a vegan soft serve sandwich ($7.99). Essentially a vegan ice cream sandwich, it consists of a generous helping of the Original Nanashake sandwiched between two surprisingly rich double chocolate cookies.
The cookies themselves have a dash of ginger flavour within them, and go very well with the cold smoothness of the soft serve. As far as vegan cookies go, these are delicious. Only a limited batch are available daily, so it's better to try for these earlier in the day.
Make sure to also check out the toppings here. Ranging from black bean brownies to Oreos, their vegan toppings start at 50 cents and can either be mixed into, or layered on top of, your soft serve dessert.
I also try the Nana Pops. Essentially a Nanashake soft serve in popsicle form, these are available plain ($2.99) or covered in nuts ($3.49). My personal favourite is the half chocolate-half original one, which is as satisfying to eat as it is to look at.