In a city where not one flake of snow has ever been seen, summer temperatures tip over 30 degrees Celsius, and people have working tastebuds, ice cream is just necessary. Forget the cheap tubs that contain more water than cream, and stroll over to our favourite spots for ice cream in Hong Kong that’s actually good. Soft serve with a pure milk taste? Authentic Italian gelato? Ice cream cakes, if that’s your thing? Find out where to get the best examples of the sweet, cold treat below.
Messina — Central
The original Messina opened in Sydney in 2002. Now thriving with more than 25 outlets in Australia, Messina brought its artisan gelato ice cream to Hong Kong in 2021. At any give time, they have 35 signature flavours in their display case, such as Choc Fondant, Dulce de Leche, and Pistachio Praline, plus local flavours that regularly change like Milk Tea, Tofu Fa, Yuen Yeung, Yoyoyokult; as well as five special flavours, each of which are only available for seven days.
Messina has withstood the test of time by controlling every point of production, using milk from their own dairy farm, hazelnuts from their hazelnut farm, and making their own dulce de luche and chocolate from Ecuadorian cacao. One of the pricier ice cream spots on this list, you can get one scoop for HK$70, two for HK$85, or three for HK$95. They also make avant-garde gelato cakes.
Central #1: 37-43 Pottinger St | email@example.com
Central #2: Pop-up at Shop 239, LANDMARK ATRIUM, 15 Queen’s Rd Central
Mobile Softee — Multiple locations
Iconic and ubiquitous, Mobile Softee brings joy on wheels to every corner of Hong Kong. With 14 ice cream trucks roaming the city, you can usually spot the vibrant vans in areas with concentrated foot traffic, like Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Central. Since starting operations in 1970, Mobile Softee has sold just four items: milky soft serve ice cream, ice cream drumstick with peanuts, Large Cups, and Jumbo Orange. The affordable prices of HK$10 to HK$13 and iconic white, red, and blue vans make Mobile Softee a quintessential part of many Hongkongers’ childhoods.
Commonly seen at Star Ferry Pier (Tsim Sha Tsui), Central Pier no. 6, Stanley Main Street, Sai Kung Pier, Golden Bauhinia Square (Wan Chai), outside Sham Shui Po Station Exit D2)
Venchi — Multiple locations
Italian chocolatier Venchi is also known for its decadent ice cream offering. The chain’s spattering of small outlets in Hong Kong have done well with their luxe, velvety gelatos and fruity sorbets. They’ve tuned their ears to local tastes to the sound of limited edition flavours like Durian and Lychee. The mini cone with 120 grams of ice cream starts at the premium price point of HK$59, and they also offer ‘Gourmet’ cones and cups which are coated with an absolutely sinful layer of chocolate and/or nuts for an extra HK$15.
Multiple locations in Hong Kong
il Bel Paese — Discovery Bay, Happy Valley, Tsim Sha Tsui
Charming Italian restaurant and market il Bel Paese offers creamy gelato in handmade waffle cones at three locations: Discovery Bay, Happy Valley, and Tsim Sha Tsui (the only dedicated gelateria). There are no gimmicks here, just classics like rich dark chocolate, espresso, and hazelnut for full Ferrero Rocher feels, as well as tropical favourites like coconut, mango, and tart red berry. Pointing out which flavours are egg-free and dairy-free is a nice touch, too. Prices start at HK$38 for one hearty scoop in a cup or cone and go up to HK$88 for three.
Discovery Bay: G29-32A, Block C, DB South Plaza | +852 2987 0202
Happy Valley: 18A Yik Yam St | +852 2868 2818
Tsim Sha Tsui: 62 Mody Rd
Barista by Givrés — Central
Treat your senses to the pretty-as-a-picture gelato at Barista by Givrés. Located in Central, this trendy Hong Kong ice cream shop and café elevates the whole post-dinner treat experience with their patented creations of handcrafted gelato roses served on dainty metal stands. As the design is patented, you won’t find gelato roses anywhere else in Hong Kong.
The Rose in a simple cone (HK$50 for one flavour or HK$65 for two) that looks like you’re holding a pretty flower in your hand is the classic, but you can also pair the ice cream with a waffle, croffle, brownie, croissant, or even make it an affogato with a pour of their artisan espresso (from HK$68 to HK$80). The flavour options are simple, with popular ones being fragrant rose, pistachio, and vanilla.
7 Staunton St, Central | +852 9659 0816
XTC Gelato — Central
This Hong Kong gelataria has been around since 2001. Located centrally beside the Mid-Levels escalator, they serve gelato as well as sorbets for non-dairy takers in creative flavours like Clover Honey Yoghurt, Pear Williams Brandy, and Sour Cream; they also have a couple of nice locally bent flavours like the Hong Kong Milk Tea and Stem Ginger. They also make deliciously dense ice cream cakes, gelato popsicles, gelato cookie sandwiches, and gelato shakes. After a night out in the pub, swing by for a single scoop for HK$50. If you’re not sure what flavour to get, don’t worry, because the shopkeepers are always generous with the samples.
45B Cochrane St, Central | +852 2541 0500
Sweets House Cha Cha — Tsim Sha Tsui
With just one little shop inside city’super Harbour City, Sweets House Cha Cha is a gem offering honest soft serve ice cream made with Japanese ingredients. The Hokkaido Milk Soft Cream (HK$36) and Kyoto Uji Matcha Soft Cream (HK$38) are the must-tries at this Hong Kong ice cream shop if you’re going for the first time. If you want something a little more buffed up for a pretty Instagram shot, the soft serve in waffle cups (from HK$50) are perfect for sharing. The texture is uber creamy while the purity of the ingredients are obvious — they’ll have you saying “It’s not too sweet!”.
city’super, 3/F, Harbour City, 17 Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui | +852 2375 8222
Twist & Buckle — Tsim Sha Tsui and North Point
Twist & Buckle is where ice cream becomes a work of art. The proclaimed “Churros Specialists” have branches in Tsim Sha Tsui and North Point, serving up whimsical delights of ice cream topped with just-made churros. Opened by two South American friends, the churros are made the traditional way while the flavour combinations are more inventive; think Crème Brûlée, Strawberry Stracciatella, and Lemon Pie. The ice cream churros range from HK$58 when paired with the original churro, to HK$68 for special flavours like the Rainbow and Cookie Monster (pictured above).
Tsim Sha Tsui: 29-31 Chatham Rd S | +852 6508 2674
North Point: 180 Electric Rd, North Point
Via Tokyo — Causeway Bay
Escape the bustling streets of Causeway Bay and enter the serene world of Via Tokyo. This Japanese-inspired dessert haven has a nice selection of soft-serve ice cream. Indulge in their velvety matcha, aromatic hojicha, pure Hokkaido milk, or heavenly black sesame flavours. The prices range from HK$40 to HK$50. One of our favourites has to be the Mochi Azuki (from HK$53) with a heaping bowl of sultry soft serve and little bites of tacky mochi. Matcha experts at their core, Via Tokyo also does other delectable matcha desserts such as Uji Matcha Basque Cheesecake and Matcha Rollcake.
Shop 1A-1B, Leishun Court, 106-126 Leighton Rd, Causeway Bay | +852 2895 1116
Mini Melts — Multiple locations
Mini Melts are a tiny wonder in the ice cream world. With 15 kiosks across Hong Kong, this treat from Canada offers a unique twist on the classic scoop. Each little gem of ice cream is frozen using liquid nitrogen with flavours ranging from tangy fruit medleys to Cotton Candy to Banana Split. A cup with one flavour will set you back around HK$40. The little ones will definitely be fans of this delightful ice cream treat which is as fun to eat as it is to look at.
Multiple locations in Hong Kong
Header image credits: Jean Balzan via Canva