LUCY’S LAB CREAMERY
435 Kamakee St. Suite 102
During a trip along the West Coast two years ago, Lee Wang noticed an interesting trend: Ice cream shops with unusual flavors had popped up in places like L.A., San Francisco and Seattle. He also noticed that he couldn’t stay away: In the course of one five-day stop, he went to the same creamery four times.
“It was stuff you didn’t see in the supermarket,” Wang recalls. “Not only that, but the quality and the creaminess were just totally different.”
When he returned home to the Islands, Wang, who is a real estate agent at Prudential Locations, began making desserts during gatherings with friends, toying around with fun ice cream flavors.
Those experiments were the basis for what is now Lucy’s Lab Creamery, which opened in August on Kamakee Street. (It’s a somewhat forgotten road, but is really just right off Kapiolani Boulevard and a stone’s throw from Ala Moana Center.)
Like any laboratory, Lucy’s Lab Creamery involved a trial–and-error process: Some of the early versions, Wang admits, were terrible. But he kept at it, revising and re-tweaking until he had a solid offering of flavors.
And it’s the science part that he really seems to get into. He even visited what sounds like something of a science camp/boot camp/ delicious haven for ice cream makers in Wisconsin. So he modeled the store with a laboratory theme, complete with a periodic table that displays current flavors — it has six at a time, which rotate periodically (sorry). Eventually, Lucy’s hopes to fill out the entire periodic table, but right now options include Bacon Whiskey, Froot Loops Vodka, Nutella and Honey Lavender.
To replace the Earl Grey that recently was pulled, Pumpkin Pie is on its way — pumpkin spice ice cream loaded with pie crust crumbles. Look for it next week. Flavors that include Kahuku Sweet Corn, Eggnog and Cinnamon Toast Crunch currently are in the testing process (which means that, if you stop in, you could be a lucky test subject).
Lucy’s Lab also offers Pan De Crème, a Hawaiian sweet roll with homemade jam (usually strawberry, blueberry or mango) or a Nutella spread with your choice of ice cream. Then it’s all put into a panini press to bake the bread to create a hot-on-the-outside and cold-on-the-inside treat.
As if we need an excuse to eat ice cream, a portion of Lucy’s proceeds also benefit various breast cancer charities. So far, it has partnered with UH Cancer Center. In 2012, Wang’s mother, Lucy, died after a long battle with breast cancer.
“I wanted to do something in memory of her,” Wang says.
Although Wang’s previous food industry experience is limited to whipping up desserts at home, he comes from a line of restaurateurs. His grandfather and uncle both owned Chinese restaurants — but he wanted nothing to do with the industry.
“I see how hard people in the restaurant industry work,” Wang says, “and how much it consumes their lives. But I think of ice cream as the cheerful little sister of the food industry. It’s fun and it’s enjoyable. You don’t have people coming in here with frowns. Everybody is happy to have ice cream.”
Lucy’s Lab customers are getting in on the flavor-creation fun, too: “People come in here with all of these ideas,” Wang says. “And I encourage it because the crazier the flavors are, the better. The best ones we have are the ones that you would never think would go together. The crazier the better. I am not going to turn down anything without trying it.”
All ice cream is $1 per ounce. Lucy’s Lab Creamery is open noon to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday — or until the ice cream runs out, so be sure to check Lucy’s Facebook or Twitter before you go.