A Love Letter to Ice Cream
Story by Nell Robbins
Photos by Jay Diaz
Sticky Ricky’s is a tiny ice cream parlor tucked away in one of the small back streets by Sookmyeoung Women’s University station. The narrow streets are home to many small neighborhood shops, but under a crisp blue banner, is a treasure nestled among the non-descript mom and pop businesses. It’s white interior, while clean, is minimal, a single blue “Sticky Ricky’s” ice cream cone decal decorating one of the walls. But once you start looking at the flavors offered, your interest will most certainly be peaked. Options like Gochujang Chocolate, Magpie Pizza, Cardamom Fig Swirl, Cilantro Lime Time and more have been known to be some of the delicious tastes available. Even flavors like Vampire Blood are offered during the Halloween season.
Jay grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. From seventeen to twenty he drove an ice cream truck, so you could say this is not his first frozen dairy rodeo. “No ice cream satisfied me here,” he said, talking about ice cream in Korea. “I wanted to make (and eat) something similar to what I grew up with. I learned the basics of the craft and started doing pop-ups and people liked it. We decided to open our shop to further share our ice cream with the community. I'm also still, and always, learning.” He and his wife Eunhee have been operating Sticky Ricky’s since May 2017, and they’re still going strong.
Sticky Ricky’s isn’t your typical ice cream shop. In a country dominated by gelato cafes, Turkish ice cream stands, and commercial chains, Sticky Ricky’s offers up classic American style hard serve ice cream. The flavors are not only unique, but also genuinely crafted. “We wanted to do something different, fun, legit and quality,” Jay said. If you stop by and find yourself lucky enough to catch Jay while he is not busy serving patrons or mixing a new flavorful batch, he’s always happy to give you a breakdown on what makes his ice cream interesting. He has a passion for the process that makes asking about a flavor an added experience. Jay’s knowledge and attention to detail is akin to the way a brewmaster describes beer or a sommelier does wine. It is immediately clear that a lot of work, passion, and dedication goes into producing these interesting and unique flavors.
Not only does Sticky Ricky’s make sure to provide unique flavors, but any foreigner will recognize the texture and body of the ice creams being similar to something from home, compared to the Korean ice cream consistencies. Sticky Ricky’s also works hard to blend together Korean and American flavors. They strive to bring those nostalgic feelings tied to flavors from your childhood. The “tteokbokki” flavored ice cream tastes so much like the genuine thing, you can easily picture Korean elementary school kids stopping by the bun shik jips on their way home from school to grab some of their favorite comfort food to eat after a hard day of classes. The “gochujang chocolate” is the perfect ratio of Korean red chili paste and savory chocolate, creating a rich flavor with a spicy kick that tickles the tongue. No matter what flavor you request, your taste buds are in for a treat at Sticky Ricky’s.
Gochujang chocolate and salted caramel cookie party are the most successful flavors and almost always available. Everything else rotates often, and some are seasonal. Sticky Ricky’s makes it a point to have flavors of all kinds that all can enjoy. “Ice cream is and should be for everybody.” Jay says. “We have flavors for all ages and all walks of life.”