Was just window-shopping around Orchard Gateway whilst we noticed a standee advertisement on a Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl that is being served at a kiosk named SWIRLGO — the kiosk itself does seem to be a fairly new addition to East Eight Sneaker x Tea Concept store which itself is located on the ground floor of Orchard Gateway just right across the road from the Foot Locker store at Orchard Gateway @ Emerald. Occupying just a small kiosk area that is towards the right of the bubble tea counter within the store, SWIRLGO is a takeaway-only operation which serves up soft-serve ice-cream which they name as Swirls. At SWIRLGO, patrons can pick between the few Signature Specials that are available on the menu such as the Peanut Butter Choc Chunky Swirl or the Espresso Brownie Chunky Swirl which sees the swirl base, mix-in and toppings pre-selected, or patrons can choose to Build-Your-Swirl by first selecting their choice of gelato or froyo base (think flavours such as Vanilla Gelato, Chocolate Gelato, Salted Caramel Gelato or Honey Frozen Yogurt), and pick one (1) mix-in and one (1) topping to create their own unique Swirl to their desire. It is also interesting to see how the Swirl is being prepared here — the gelato / froyo comes in capsules named Swirl Pods, and the mix-ins opted will be mixed into the Swirl Pod containing the gelato / froyo before being churned out through the use of the SWIRLGO machine, only to be finished off with the placement of toppings by the staff before being served; the concept being fairly similar to that of CAMACA at KAP Mall where a dedicated machine is also used to dispense their gelato which are enclosed in a macaron-shaped capsule.

Being fairly intrigued by the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl which was being advertised in the standee, the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl comprises of Lao Gan Ma Chilli as well as chopped peanuts as mix-ins, while the topping would be the Senbei (i.e. Japanese Rice Cracker) that came on the top — the gelato base used here would be the Vanilla Gelato. As intimidating as it might sound, the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl was probably that weird ice-cream flavour that one would not think about — that is only until when they had actually tried it out. There is just this something which is so appealing with its sweet-savoury notes — that rich, smooth and creamy vanilla gelato that carries an inherent sweetness meeting the savoury, smoky notes of Lao Gan Ma Chili that also comes with just a light tinge of spiciness that tickles the taste buds towards it finish; something which we would liken to having McDonald’s Vanilla soft-serve together with French Fries which some would call illegal, but is completely a guilty pleasure for others. That addition of chopped peanuts provided that bridge that both elements needed to gel together, lending a nuttiness that enhances both the vanilla gelato and the Lao Gan Ma Chili whilst giving a good crunch to the entire mix. Whilst we thought that the topping of the savoury Senbei was more for aesthetic reasons rather than for the flavoural aspect of the item, we would say that it did provide a crispy touch with a saltishness that well matched up for that sweet-savoury flavour combination that the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl was intended to carry.

There is no doubt that most would think that the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl is a highly adventurous item, and there is no denying how an item like that is likely to see very divided opinions for and against the combination. One thing is pretty clear for sure however; the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl, love it or hate it, is an item that is created to make a statement — one that is conceived to create the commotion and attention for SWIRLGO. For us, we felt that the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl definitely coined on those who are big on the combination of sweet and savoury notes with a hint of spiciness to top it off — we found ourselves being pretty receptive of the entire package, though we are fairly certain how this would likely not appeal to those seeking for something safe; more tested and proven. Given how the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl is a limited time-only item, we would say that the Lao Gan Ma Chunky Swirl is something worth giving a shot at for those who are into experimenting something that is quite out-of-the-box. That doesn’t mean that the less adventurous folks are totally missing out however; we would reckon their other Signature Specials are probably flavours that would suit the masses where one can still experience for themselves how the SWIRLGO machine works as opposed to the conventional gelato parlours that either scoops or lathers the gelato manually for a change.