KRĒM is a dessert shop that features a signature combination of cake, sauce and Pan-Asian inspired soft serve ice cream. Ube, matcha, vanilla and black sesame are the staple flavors for their soft serve, but diners can also catch seasonal flavors such as horchata and pumpkin spice. The family-run shop has a lot to offer during hot and cold weather alike.
KRĒM knows their target demographic well
My wife and I stopped by KRĒM (pronounced cream) on a Sunday afternoon. Upon entering, it was clear that the owners created an aesthetic likely to be attractive to millennials and members of Gen Z. Millennial pink, mint green, grey and white tastefully dominate the landscape.
Lush greenery and a neon sign that says “I licked it, so it’s mine” work to create an ideal backdrop for photographs. If anyone remembers what encyclopedias are, you’d likely find a photo of KRĒM under an entry for “Instagram-Worthy.” One of the co-owners, Alyssa Tear, explained that they were looking to cultivate a fun and cheeky spot for young adults. They hit their intended mark with precision.
Well-defined roles keep the business strong
Alyssa co-owns the shop with her husband, Casey.
My wife and I recently started a business together, so I was curious if Alyssa had any tips for us to maintain a successful business alongside a happy marriage. She suggested that we should adopt specific roles and adhere to them well. For example, Casey often handles the customer-facing activities for their business, while Alyssa handles their marketing and bookkeeping. I think that’s excellent advice from a fellow young entrepreneur.
In an interview with Fox 11, Alyssa and Casey mentioned that their flavor profiles well-represent popular offerings in Japan (matcha – ground green tea leaves) and the Philippines (ube – purple yam).
I asked Alyssa if their other flavors are particularly popular in certain countries.
“Originally, we really wanted to do Asian-inspired flavors. Right now, we have black sesame which is really popular in China. We also had Thai Tea. Those circulate throughout our flavors. Thai Tea is of course from Thailand,” said Alyssa.
She went on to explain that Casey grew up around Los Angeles among great Mexican eateries. The flavors from his youth went on to inspire one of the couple’s most popular seasonal flavors: horchata (rice, milk, vanilla and cinnamon).
I asked Alyssa why they went with soft serve instead of conventional ice cream. She advised that they’ve long enjoyed the soft serve offerings available in Los Angeles, so they started thinking about how they could innovate on the well-established concept. They found that innovation with their combination of cake, soft serve and Pan-Asian flavors.
Sweet eats are the focus for now
Seeing the word “pie” in their business sign, I inquired about their baked goods. Alyssa explained that they offered savory pies via pre-order for a time, but they have since discontinued those menu items.
In addition to their regular offerings, their winter menu offers coffee, cider, hot chocolate and tableside-roasted s’mores. Note that the cider and hot chocolate are available as Drink of the Day offerings, so you might not catch them at every outing.
If this year’s diners express enough interest, the couple may bring back a hot, sweet tapioca dessert named Tong Sui which they offered last year.
The couple uses milk and heavy cream in their soft serve base. Depending on the flavor, they’ll use white granulated sugar or brown sugar. They’ve explored vegan options but haven’t quite found a recipe that they favor yet.
Alyssa noted that they prepare all their offerings, including the cakes and sauces, in-house. Diners can choose between chocolate and vanilla cake. Sauce options include strawberry, condensed milk, ganache (semi-sweet chocolate and cream) and red bean (sweetened adzuki beans).
Alyssa spoke about how they carefully curate their sheet cake and soft serve combinations when she said, “With ube, we like to do it with vanilla cake and condensed milk, because in the Philippines, they would put condensed milk on the ube dessert.” She went on, “Chocolate [cake], we do that with our black sesame [soft serve], because the chocolate really brings out the nuttiness of the black sesame.” She noted that customers are always free to customize their own flavor combinations.
We ended our interview by discussing unreleased flavors in the works. They are interested in producing a spin on pineapple Dole Whip, a frozen treat popularized by Disneyland. They might also try to do red bean flavored soft serve which is popular in China.
Trust the curated flavors
My wife and I each ordered a coffee ($2.80), soft serve ($6.80) and Pocky (cookie stick) garnishes ($0.30).
The coffee was tasty. It was a dark roast with nutty notes. We didn’t catch the vendor.
At the advice of Alyssa, my wife ordered a swirl of matcha and vanilla ice cream, two strawberry Pocky sticks, vanilla cake and strawberry sauce. The matcha and vanilla worked well together, almost like a matcha latte. The cake was moist, and we both appreciated the subtle acidity offered by the berry slices within the sauce. The Pocky, too, offered a welcome tang.
I selected the ube and black sesame swirl, chocolate cake, condensed milk and cookies and cream Pocky. I totally agree with Alyssa’s assessment that the chocolate cake brings out the nuttiness of the black sesame soft serve. Many across social media sites and Yelp conclude that the ube soft serve tastes like cereal milk with a hint of berry. I enjoyed the ube flavor and won’t try to one-up the popular description of its flavor. Having tasted the ube and black sesame separately in sample-form, I think that they’re stronger together in a swirl.
Some feisty internet reviewers take issue with the cake to soft serve ratio, but I wasn’t put off at all. In fact, I really liked the layered approach. Instead of a kitchen sink-style dessert where every ingredient is available in every bite, diners can revel in the distinct layers. Diners can also select wide, paper cups instead of narrow plastic cones if they wish to access the cake immediately.
$6.80 for a dessert does seem to be on the higher end in Reno, but I think the portions, atypical flavors and especially friendly service justify the cost. I hope to return soon.
Visit KRĒM at 115 E. Moana Lane #102 in Reno. Their winter operating hours are Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday / Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays. Reach them by phone at 775-685-8695. Visit KRĒM online at kremccp.com.