Cà-rem is the word for ice cream in southern Vietnam, where Gee Phan grew up. She remembers eating it from colourful street carts as a child. Not only was it sweet, but it helped stave off Ho Chi Minh City’s unrelenting heat. Phan has channelled those memories into Ca-Rem Gelato, a bright store that offers pan-Asian gelato, sorbet and thickshakes alongside Vietnamese and Aussie-style coffee.
The playful space is a flurry of pink, from the nostalgic cottage swings to the gelato sign that lights up a blushing feature wall. But its most eye-catching feature might be the glass cabinet displaying a rainbow of flavours – from electric-green coconut pandan to purple taro coconut and yellow durian. Some of Phan’s favourite flavours include Kopiko (a nod to the popular Indonesian coffee lolly she ate as a child) and the salted cumquat, which follows her grandmother’s recipe. There are vegan options too, such as watermelon, and lychee and mint. But it’s hard to just try one. Luckily, you can scoop a few options into a cup, cone, gelato thickshake or takeaway tub.
Phan makes the gelato on-site most days and will cheerily talk you through the range. Her mum is often around to help, and Phan says she makes the best Vietnamese iced coffee. Or if you’re after something hotter, there’s also warming Vietnamese or Aussie-style coffee.