This is the dawning of the age of the ice cream burrito. Even Ben & Jerry's announced its "Brr-ito" last April. But their waffle-cone-wrapped creation owes its existence to a phenomenon that was born in Taiwanese night markets. In its homeland, the ice cream dessert is called run bing, after the savory steamed spring roll indigenous to the Taipei area. In turn, the sweet run bing probably owes something to Filipino ice cream sandwiches, pandesal bread filled with bright purple ube ice cream, but that's another matter.
What you need to know is that there is only one place to find the Taiwanese treat in Houston, and it's at a gelateria–Dun Huang Plaza's Gelato Cup, to be exact. The excellent sweet shop specializes in gelati in Asian flavors, including durian, pandan and taro, but also a collection of other Taiwanese desserts. There are hot dessert soups dotted with rice balls, as well as sago puddings, juices and fruit bowls. But the ice cream burrito is something to behold, even if in reality, it looks like this.
It may not be pretty, but the dessert's visual deficits did nothing to quell my ardor. First, the gelato within was the stuff of dreams. Nutty black sesame paired better than I could have expected with a hyper-realistic ice cream version of honeydew. Crushed, candied peanuts and sadly unripe mango chunks didn't add much besides texture, and I missed the cilantro shown in the photo, but digging into the two scoops of gelato wrapped in the chewy run bing pancake was pleasure enough.
The one question was how to eat the thing. And after finishing my first one, I still didn't know. Spearing a half a burrito with a fork may be inelegant, but sometimes we all have to lose a little dignity to an uncommon taste treat.