May 31, 2011

The Ice Cream Crawl: The Report

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about the ice cream crawl, but you know what guys, WE DID IT! Eight ice cream places in seven hours, from Seeb to Ruwi, across four malls, one business center, and a ghetto. In total we were 18 crawlers, 3 children, and 2 babies! We lost count of the number of scoops consumed in total, but you know it was A LOT.

Read the rest of the report after the jump.

The crawl started off at 3pm at Pinkberry, I had a pomegranate frozen yogurt with some fruit toppings. The staff of Pinkberry were super cheerful and friendly as usual, all the crawlers liked the ambiance, their pebble floors, and the pop music played. We had some complaints about the lack  of the toppings they had when we were there, and somehow they don’t seem to ever have some of the local options (such as dates) which they used to have when they first started, we were also irritated by the fact that the labels on their sprinkles were not in order and did not make sense. That didn’t stop the crawlers from thoroughly enjoyed the froyo they got!

Once done with Pinkberry we moved to Baskin Robbins which was just across the hall from where we were sitting. It was a bit disappointing from the get go that Baskin Robbin did not have the nice seating that Pinkberry has, it was kind of noisy, but fortunately one of the tables in the center of the hall was available when we were there. The nice thing about Baskin Robins is that they have loads and loads of variety of flavors including sugar free options and they change all the time. I had a strawberry cheese cake (one of favorites as BR) and it was delicious!

Our third step was Tropical in Bank Muscat new HQ, their new building is gorgeous and it is easily accessible. A few of the crawlers couldn’t continue with us to the next leg of the crawl, but we were joined by a few other crawlers at BM. Despite Tropical being Judge Stephanie’s favorite ice cream place in Muscat, she had to admit that their ice cream had a bizarre texture due to it being made of what seemed to be powdered milk!! [Update, according to the comment below Tropical uses fresh unpasteurized cow milk] I had some saffron ice cream which tasted like something my mom would make at home, but still I really didn’t like it much! :/ Tropical has to be recognized for its effort to use local products, but they should seriously work on their branding to make it a bit more appealing.

I was not exactly thrilled to go to Dream Cones due previous experiences I had with them, and a few people commented on the original Crawl post saying that their ice cream wasn’t very nice, however the majority of the crawlers were pleasantly surprised by the great variety Dream Cones had, especially when it came to sugar free options. We tried a sugar free dark chocolate fondue which was super rich and quite nice.

Il Gelato was the spot for which most crawlers came to, we were there around sunset, and it is quite possibly the best location you can enjoy your ice cream around that time due to the breathtaking sea view you get from their place. Il Gelato had some good variety of ice cream, the seating was nice, and it was was very kid-friendly. We were a bit disappointed by the service as we were not informed about the available syraps and the parking at Oasis by the Sea is always a nightmare so you have to plan ahead for it if you want to come here. I had a mango flavored gelato which was the most refreshing thing I had on the whole crawl!

For the sixth and seventh stops we went to QCC, we started off with Marble Slab (which predates Cold Stone according to Wikipedia the ultimate authority). The crawlers were impressed by Marble Slab’s great selection of ice cream cones which you can get in different varieties such as chocolate, sprinkles, or candybar coated, Marble Slab was also the only place we’ve gone to which had a loyalty card program and gave discounts to members of the Women’s Guild of Oman (not that I’m a member or anything like that! :P). I was pleasantly surprised by their strawberry ice cream.

We had the greatest amount of fun ordering ice cream at Cold Stone, the two employees made a show as they juggled our ice cream orders, and at one point they tossed the small ice cream scoop across the corridor where the other one caught it in a cup. Cold Stone has a great variety of ice creams which you can customize by adding different kind of mix-ins. I had a cake batter ice cream with a brownie which was seriously delicious!

Our very last stop was of the Ice Cream Crawl was Softy – the one and only ice cream place in Oman since 1975. You get exactly what you pay for: soft served goodness at a low price (RO 0.200). It sort of felt like a museum/exhibition and ignited everyone’s nostalgia. Softy now actually serves a variety of ice creams, but we chose to go for the original softy which you can have in vanilla/strawberry or vanilla/chocolate flavors. (But not in strawberry/chocolate together!!!)

So the original purpose of the Ice Cream Crawl is to select the best ice cream place in town, and for this we evaluated each of the ice cream places on the basis on the following six categories:

  1. Flavor, texture, and customization options.
  2. Variety – bonus points for local ingredients.
  3. Ambiance, seating, and parking.
  4. Cost vs value.
  5. Service.
  6. Branding

You guys should know that this is not a scientific exercise, but we did our best to fair and objective and took in mind all the feedback we got from the crawlers who came to each of the places, and here are the results:

So the winner of the Ice Cream Crawl 2011 is: COLD STONE CREAMERY!! We really liked their service and their ice creams were delicious! It is unfortunate that Cold Stone does not have proper seating, but at least it is very close to the food court so you can have it there.

The crawlers demanded that the special “People’s Choice Award” is given to Softy for the special place in occupies in all of our hearts!

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come to the ice cream crawl, especially the judge Stephanie Dahle for taking all the photographs and keeping everyone in order and crawler Sami Al Asmi for going through the whole crawl and having the most amount of ice cream on it!!

  • @o3mer

    Good effort. BTW Tropical is the ONLY one from the bunch which uses FRESH unpasteurized cow’s milk for making their Ice Cream 🙂 (and not powdered milk as the judge thought)u00a0

  • Majid

    Thumbs up, you did a great job guys!

  • Najeeb Ahmed

    Wow, what an informative report, except, its not!nFact# 1) For one do you know that pink berry does not serve Icecream. I dont think you have noticed the difference between Ice cream and yogurt, because yuor title says “THE ICE CREAM CRAWL”.nFact # 2) Of all the outlets you visited, Tropical is the only one which has 100 percent fresh homemade Icecream,made with fresh milk, cream, fruits and nuts. No artificial flavours or colourings as opposed to the rest who use just that. I am sure that you have been away from rural rural part of the country from where you came, to easily differentiate between fresh and powdered milk.nFact # 3) As you mentioned yourself, that the Ice cream tasted like the one your mom made back home. EUreka! thats what tropical always boasts of FRESH HOME MADE ICECREAM. But it seems that you presented it in a different way.nFact # 4) Did you even check out the prices at the other stores, or maybe someone else was paying for you. Otherwise how on earth would you place Tropical in a cost comparision with the rest (except softy). Tropical sells thier Ice cream cups for 700 baiza, and thats for a whole 140 ml which roughly equals to 2 scoops. Where as most of the other Imported Ice creams are easily selling at double the price of TropicalnAnd the last sentence about branding, well come on over we might talk about branding with you, I reckon one of your associates specialises in Product Branding and is desperately looking for a contract. We can talk about it.nMoreover, I think that revewing a product or brand should not be based on a personal choice of one person, BTW, I trust the instinct of stephanie who seems to be part of the crawl, but has not been given due credit as it seems that you are the Final judge.nPS: I am in no way saying that the other products are not good, as a matter of fact I love Pink Berry for thier yogurts, softy for thier cones and Iam sure that the others also have some nice Ice creams.

  • @8dcdf409c9b674d23e26ac1727e5764f:disqusu00a0thanks for passing by, looks like someone is not happy that Tropical did not come out as the winner of the ice cream crawl.u00a0nThe ice cream crawl was made for fun, it is not intended to be a scientific exercise. I am not sure you understand the concept of this website – it is in fact all about the personal opinion of just one person, however, the rates given to the ice cream places in the schedule above were made after consulting the participants in the crawl.nnHopefully next year when we make the crawl again you can come over and share your opinion with all the crawlers! 😛

  • Doncyager

    I don’t much like the idea of their using unpasteurized milk!

  • Doncyager

    I was delighted that you gave a People’s Choice award to Softy. When I first arrived in Oman way back in 1980, it was Frosty that got me safely through those first several very hot days! And it’s still there and thriving even with all the highu00a0end competition. Good for them…and good for you for initiating this crawl. Well done!

  • Thanks for your comment Mr Yager, yeah, Softy seems to have this nostalgic effect on people, but you know this was my very firs time to try it!!

  • Farasat Beg

    Commendable effort i must say..

  • Puneetmiglani

    Thank you Crawlers….look forward for more visits like these to let us simple customers know whats good in town and who provides good value for money……look forward for more write ups…nI am passionate about Marble slab for different reasons. Try asking for a flavor which is in not in their display cabinet and they will go out of their way to provide it for you form their freezers within…

  • Sam

    Hey!
    Where can I find softy other than its main brunch, ruwi?!

  • Hey @016105d5a2f813e0b0ac21a18d0e768e:disqus I don’t think there is another branch for Softy besides its Ruwi branch.

  • muscateer

    Tropical Juices & Ice Cream (Golden Spoon Group)
    Product & Services: FRESH FRUIT JUICES & DRINKS, ICE CREAM & SORBET
    Address:PO Box 2170, Muscat – 111 Oman
    Telephone:+968 24478215
    Fax:+968 24482145
    Email:najeeb@goldenspoongroup.com
    Web:www.goldenspoongroup.com
    Key Persons:Najeeb Ahmed – Managing Director