It’s lobster season, and in Houston that means it’s also lobster ice cream season.
“Well, we’re in Texas!” Nickey Ngo, owner of Red Circle Ice Cream, said Saturday as a steady stream of customers visited the store’s original location, at 6838 Ranchester Drive in Southwest Houston.
Several years ago, she explained, she was on her way to dinner with her husband when inspiration struck. She thought that year’s lobster ice cream experiment would be a one-time thing, but due to customer demand, Red Circle decided to bring back the flavor every spring break.
This year, Ngo added, several customers have joked that their lobster ice cream is a cheap alternative to the traditional lobster boil experience.
It’s savory ice cream, with an initial burst of umami bombshell that mellows to a very mild sweetness, followed by a pleasantly spicy kick. Notes of garlic, butter, cayenne, paprika and more can be detected, with the spices adding flecks of texture to the silky palette.
“Tastes like lobster,” my dining partner observed.
To be clear, there are no shellfish in the ice cream itself, even though Red Circle serves the scoop with a shrimp perched politely on top. (You can eat it, and Ngo said some customers dip their heads into the ice cream before sucking on it.)
Red Circle, opened in 2017, also has locations in Sugar Land and Pearland. It serves a rotating variety of ice cream flavors, made in-house, with staples including strawberry, vanilla, and a signature “Elmo Crunch,” a Muppet-red take on cookies and cream.
In addition to the homemade ice cream, the shop sells churros, in a variety of flavours; Macaron; and Hong Kong-style puffy, crispy egg waffles, which can be combined, topped and topped to create a variety of dazzling desserts.
Beverages include Vietnamese coffee, Thai iced tea, and different flavors of lemonade and milkshakes, which can be topped with chamois or Tajin and filled with whipped cream and churro sticks.
One customer, Ngo said, paired lobster ice cream with a vanilla macaron to make an ice cream sandwich. We weren’t brave enough to try it, but found that Red Circle’s cinnamon sugar churro goes well with the shrimp ice cream, adding balanced sweetness and chewiness.
The lobster ice cream will be available through the end of the week, Ngo says, unless it sells out sooner.