Kurimu serves up Asian-influenced treats on Taylor Street in Little Italy

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For decades, Taylor Street has been synonymous with Italian food and culture.

Chicago's original "Little Italy" still has a few beef joints and ice shops, which do well in the summertime. A relatively new ice cream shop in the neighborhood is turning up the creativity a bit, with an emphasis on flavors from Asia, while still offering cold coffee and tea drinks, along with unique ice cream and soft serve flavors.

There's a lot more than Italian beef and subs along Taylor Street these days. Students from the UIC campus nearby certainly are an influence, as is the changing demographics of the neighborhood.

At Kurimu, which opened its doors last Fall, and has enforced strict social distancing now inside and out, the emphasis is on ice cream and coffee drinks inspired by Asia.

"I always liked to travel to Japan, and I see all these different ideas of different desserts and stuff like that, so that's how I brought the idea back over here," said Ming Ng, the owner.

Coffee and tea take several cues from Korea and Taiwan. With a base of black tea, several teaspoons of non-dairy creamer are added along with a little bit of cane sugar syrup. Those get stirred together well, then they add a scoop of ice and shake - vigorously - to fully incorporate the ingredients.

Meanwhile, a scoop of tapioca pearls, called "boba" are added to a glass and the sweet, creamy black tea is poured on top. Go one step further and have a thick, viscous scoop of dalgona coffee - that quarantine Instagram trend of instant coffee and sugar beaten into thick submission - for a jolt of caffeine.

"Just brings a little different flavor to people; instead of just having a coffee, so we serve that with boba, which is a tapioca, and milk tea together," he said.

Another option lets you have black sugar - essentially brown sugar that's boiled until it resembles tar, then cooled - shmeared all over the inside walls of the glass, for an even more dramatic Instagram photo.

Ice cream comes from a local creamery, featuring flavors like Thai Ice Tea, Black Sesame and Purple Yam.

Melon buns serve as cone alternatives.

"It's like a baked, melon-flavored bun. We serve that bun warm, then with any scoop of ice cream we serve," said Ng.

Try the coconut-jack fruit-purple yam trifecta for a cool blast of Southeast Asia's greatest hits.

Soft serve is made in-house, with flavors changing every few weeks. Right now, it's either Earl Grey or purple taro - akin to a buttered popcorn flavor - or get them twisted together, in a cup or a colorful cone.

"We have a red velvet, matcha, chocolate and regular waffle cone," he said.

Like pretty much everything on the menu, they're designed for color as much as they are flavor.

"It looks pretty," said Ng.

You can also order ahead online to avoid the inevitable line-up along the building on Taylor Street. As soon as the orders are ready, they bring them outside to you. Like most other businesses in the area though, you need a mask to go inside.

1159 W. Taylor St.
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