The 'dirty' ice-cream trending this summer (and five of Sydney's best gelato stores)

Manila St's Chester and Michelin Dapo with their 'dirty' ice-cream flavours.
Manila St's Chester and Michelin Dapo with their 'dirty' ice-cream flavours.  Photo: Renee Nowytarger

In the summer heat, there are few things Sydneysiders love more than a good ice-cream. But while most Australians are familiar with traditional Italian-style gelato, people are increasingly searching for other forms of frozen goodness to satisfy their cravings.

In 2019, when their young son was having teething problems, husband-and-wife team Chester Dapo and Michelin Galang-Dapo started producing sorbetes, a hand-made Filipino treat colloquially known as "dirty" ice-cream.

"[Sorbetes] is called 'dirty' ice-cream because it's a street food in the Philippines," says Dapo. "Our son needed something cool to soothe his gums. Eventually we bought an ice-cream machine."

Husband-and-wife team Chester and Michelin Dapo started making Filipino ice-cream in 2019 when their young son was ...
Husband-and-wife team Chester and Michelin Dapo started making Filipino ice-cream in 2019 when their young son was having teething problems. Photo: Renee Nowytarger

The ice-cream proved so popular that when the Philippines-born couple started producing it for friends, they soon launched a commercial business – Manila St. – to meet demand.

"We gave some to our friends and our network grew to their friends. It's nostalgic for them because it's similar to what we have back home.

"We started with two retailers at first, but now the machine can make 500 tubs an hour."

Tradtional flavours and baklava at Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream in Newtown.
Tradtional flavours and baklava at Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream in Newtown. Photo: Supplied

Manila St. ice-cream is now stocked in most Australian states. Popular flavours include ube (pronounced oo-beh) – a purple yam originally from the Philippines that has a sweet, slightly nutty, vanilla taste – and "cheese milk", a combination of two cheeses from New Zealand and North America.

"We're still making small batches," says Dapo. "Next year we're adding more flavours. We want to get the timing right."

By continuing to elevate their brand of Filipino street-style ice-cream, the couple hope to enhance Australia's rich food heritage.


"[In Australia] everybody wants to try different cuisines," says Galang-Dapo. "Ice-cream is a comfort food and brings people together. It's a labour of love for us."

Despite the persistent long queues outside Gelato Messina stores, Sydneysiders are also gravitating towards non-Italian-style ice-creameries.

"There's been a gelato craze for the past 10 to 15 years," says Nev Bagriyanik, founder of Turkish ice-cream shop Hakiki in Newtown."But [gelato stores] are very similar. It's the same ingredient mix and everything."

Manila St's Ube flavoured 'dirty' ice-cream.
Manila St's Ube flavoured 'dirty' ice-cream. Photo: Renee Nowytarger

While Australians have always had a love for ice-cream, Bagriyanik believes that people now expect better quality.

"Your mum used to take you to Coles and buy a four-litre tub of Neapolitan. That's in our culture. But now that we're older, we want something better ... people also want diversity."

Bagriyanik says business has increased by 20 per cent annually since launching Hakiki in 2015, largely due to a focus on quality ingredients and traditional flavours such as hazelnut and sour cherry.

There is also a sought-after stretchy, almost chewy texture to Turkish ice-cream provided by a wild orchid root known as salep.

"It's all manual labour," says Bagriyanik. "You don't need to throw in some bloody cheesecake to make it sound sexy. We keep it traditional and that's why we continue to grow."

74-year-old Harbir Singh, who launched Harris Park's Rocket Kulfi ice-creamery in 2018, also takes extreme care when preparing his kulfi, a hand-made Indian frozen dairy dessert. Flavours include mango, strawberry and phirni, a type of Indian sweet pudding.

"It's not a simple process," says Singh. "It takes me around four to five hours and then it's frozen for at least three hours. We don't use any artificial colours. It's just pure milk and fresh ingredients."

Singh believes that Australians of all cultures are increasingly interested in trying new types of dessert, and for him, their satisfaction is very important.

"People from everywhere are loving our flavours. When we receive appreciation, even when it's not that much, it is still more than enough."

Five of Sydney's best gelato stores from The Good Food Guide 2022

Ice Kirin Bar

Scoops here reimagine Asian flavours – peach oolong tea, salted egg yolk or Vietnamese coffee – with each built on cult products. The black sesame uses Kuki sesame seeds, for example, while strawberry is churned into a base of Calpis (a Japanese soft drink made with water, lactic acid and dried milk). 55 Burwood Road, Burwood.

Gelateria Gondola

Here you'll find your regular ice-cream standbys – cassata Siciliana, say – but its small batches are for the adventurous. Always wanted to try pumpkin or whisky flavoured gelato? This is your chance. Shop 2, 77 Archer Street, Chatswood.


A post shared by Mapo (@mapo_gelato)


You can tell a lot about a gelato place by its base flavour and at Mapo, the fior di latte reigns supreme. Also try cold brew, matcha or sea salt caramel, all made with ingredients from top-tier collaborators. Extra points for the vegan range, too. 123 King Street, Newtown; 64-66 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach.


With fans ranging from Kylie Kwong to Sri Lankan Filling Station's O Tama Carey, this is one gelateria with serious cred. Their Darlinghurst shop was an early adopter of a pozzetti, for example, a display well which keeps gelato in peak condition pre-scooping. Locations in Barangaroo, Darlinghurst and Parramatta.

Ormeggio at The Spit

It's not exactly grab and go, but the gelato at Ormeggio doesn't need to come with a full-blown fine-dining experience either. Nab a seat at the bar and order up from a range of flavours whipped to order and given luxury embellishment. D'Albora Marinas, Spit Road, Mosman.