A dark-haired boy jumps up and down at the ice cream counter as his mother places the order. Then he presses his face against the glass shield, watching the employee twirl sweet milk on a frozen stainless steel plate.
Scraping, flipping and smoothing it with two spatulas, the employee’s hands become a blur as the liquid begins to freeze and take the shape of ice cream.
“I need sprinkles,” says the boy, squirming. “Sprinkles. Sprinkles. Yummy!”
Seconds later the employee hands the boy a cup of ice cream. A huge smile spreads across the boy’s face.
Three F(x) Ice Cream and Waffles at 9802 Baymeadows Road is a cold sensation in Jacksonville. Having opened in spring of 2012, it’s still the only place on the country’s East Coast that makes ice cream to order on a steel plate cooled to a – 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
One online reviewer described the process as a “reverse Hibachi grill, but for making delicious ice cream.”
“It’s pretty cool for Jacksonville,” says employee Joshua Sta. Maria. “Everyone’s ice cream is hand made. It’s kind of like a work of art.”
Common in Asia – particularly South Korea – the concept is just now making its way to the U.S.
“There’s 10 months of summer,” says Sam Yoon, one of the business’ Korean owners.
The ice cream starts with a milk base, blended and sweetened with organic beet sugar. The customer chooses dairy or non-dairy, whole milk or non-fat. Then they chose the toppings, including a dozen or more fruits like pineapple, blueberries, mango, and peaches.
The employee manipulates the ingredients to build ice cream with a creaminess and texture that can be served in a perfectly round scoop. For a treat made in no time, it’s surprisingly smooth and refreshing when it’s 93 degrees outside.
“It’s a pretty cool concept,” says Tessa Rivas, who recently brought her children to Three F(x) Ice Cream and Waffles for the second time.
Her son, Jonathan Rivas, 13, said it’s his favorite ice cream shop because it’s unique and has so many options.
“They make it from scratch,” the young Rivas says. “They have really cool flavors.”
By the way, the three F’s in the quirky name stands for “fresh” for coffee, “fruits” for ice cream and “fun treats” for waffles.
Yes, this ice cream shop also has waffles and coffee. To experience an authentic Asian treat, try the Taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped waffle with a sweet filling. The tasty red bean paste made with walnuts and sweetened azuki beans is most true to the Asian dessert, but you can also opt for custard, chocolate, cheese or sweet potato. If you’re in the mood for a meal, you can go the savory route and get your Taiyaki stuffed with cheese and ham.
Three F(x) Ice Cream and Waffles is located at 9802 Baymeadows Road.
For more information, call (904) 928-9559.