HOUSTON – Temperatures are heating up as the days progress and the best remedy for warm weather is a scoop of your favorite frozen dessert.
If you’re someone who loves gelato, this Houston gem is something you’ll want to have on your “to-try” list.
Established in 2012, SweetCup Gelato & Sorbet Originale is breaking away from the norm of the gelato tradition to give guests an unusual, yet fun and refreshing experience. The shop has 24 rotating flavors on display out of over 600 seasonal flavors that are inspired by the family values and travels of owner Jasmine Chida, who serves the desserts with an unforgettable twist.
“We’re in the Museum District, the Art District, so doing something creative and fun and putting it out there is a part of the culture here,” Chida said. “We represent that.”
The gelato is also made with local ingredients as Chida, a San Antonio native, partners with the best purveyors.
“We’re all about creativity and expressing Houston’s diversity and culture,” Chida says when describing her inspiration behind the mind-blowing flavors she likes to create. “We don’t just sell gelato, we sell an experience. That’s what we’re about.”
We asked Chida for a list of the most bizarre flavors SweetCup has created over the years, and here is what she had to say:
Shoyu Double Fermented Soy Sauce
This unusual flavor stems from a partnership Chida had with Kikkoman USA. Hey, don’t knock it until you try it! Chida says the flavor sold out and will be making another appearance this year.
This sweet and savory dessert is a frozen chicken soup acceptable to eat on a warm day.
“I was trying to do something really different to where I can push the boundaries because I like to do that a lot,” Chida said.
The flavor was inspired by a friend of Chida’s that is a chef and only a few customers have had this experimental flavor.
This favorite is made with black garlic, caramel, and black salt. The flavor debuted in 2012 and sells out every year around Halloween-time.
Saffron Rice and Cigarettes
While this flavor was an ode to her upbringing, she has never released it to the public. The most controversial flavor she’s ever created, Chida said it invokes nostalgic memories of her childhood in the 1980′s when her mother cooked saffron rice for dinner parties and her father smoked cigarettes with friends.
“I was just trying to create a memory,” Chida said. “The fact that I can create that into a flavor, that was just so cool to me. ... You can create a moment with just one flavor.”
Tobacco leaves, saffron milk, and rice were used to create this flavor.
This dairy-free sorbet is inspired by a four-night festival in the heart of San Antonio that celebrates the city’s diverse culture. The sorbet consists of coconut, smoky passion fruit, and Mezcal.
This one is self-explanatory. A San Antonio favorite turned into a soft-serve delicacy. While Chida hasn’t created this flavor since 2013, it will be making a comeback this year.
Key Lime Cilantro
Jasmine said this inspiration comes from her love for salsa. She combined some of those elements to create a refreshing dessert and customer favorite.
This Mexican-inspired favorite is Jasmine’s rendition of corn in a cup mixed with chili and spices.
This Asian fruit is known to be very smelly, yet it tastes so sweet. The treat is potent, with what has been described as a “rotten” odor, yet, it is surprisingly tasty.
Pomegranate Rose Sorbet
This flavor is the perfect combination of fruity and floral. Chida received much praise as star chefs awarded her the 2019 Rising Star Chef Award for Best Concept, saying she invoked thought and cultural awareness through the flavors.
Honorable mentions include Chida’s beloved Vanilla Bean Tres Leches, a dessert she frequently ate while growing up in San Antonio. An award-winning flavor and favorite from the Gelato World Tour was Texan Kulfi — a gelato mixed with Texas whiskey, Texas pecans, cream, cardamom, a variety of Indian spices, and praline.
SweetCup is open at the following locations:
3939 Montrose Boulevard, Suite L, Houston, TX, 77006
Garden Oaks-Oak Forest
3444 Ella Boulevard, Suite B, Houston, TX, 77018
While some of the flavors are seasonal, SweetCup has an extensive menu. You can also find this Italian favorite at local grocery stores in the Houston area. Click here for a list.