Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar

Sōfte – Ice Cream & Dessert Bar, Ilham Tower KL

Sōfte – Ice Cream & Dessert Bar, Ilham Tower KL

Words: Stephen Reid
Photos: Rich Callahan

Towering above the bustling metropolis, a gleaming futuristic structure composed of stainless steel, glass, and concrete stretches skyward. The sun’s rays dance across its 60-story diamond-patterned facade, casting distorted reflections of the cityscape below. Within its upper floors, office workers seek refuge from the sweltering heat in air-conditioned comfort as weather reports warn of a relentless heatwave gripping the region.

At the base of this architectural marvel, an unassuming entrance beckons passersby, offering respite from the oppressive sun. A sleek counter operated by uniformed staff comes into view through glass walls. Their fingers deftly navigate computer terminals as vibrant LED displays cascade information along the walls. Overhead, purple neon light illuminates the brushed stainless steel backdrop, punctuated by mysterious portholes hinting at hidden secrets. Behind these circular windows, a flurry of activity unfolds as diligent workers operate enigmatic machines surrounded by a labyrinth of multicoloured pipes.

Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
A Glimpse Inside
Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Dining Area

Though one might be forgiven for mistaking this scene as the set of the latest science fiction blockbuster or the secret lair of a supervillain, it is, in fact, the exhilarating new ice cream and dessert bar, Sōfte, that promises to enchant Kuala Lumpur’s residents just as effectively as the opening credits of a highly anticipated Marvel movie. This innovative establishment invites patrons to indulge in a sweet escape from the mundane, providing an immersive and otherworldly experience that will captivate all who enter.

Sōfte – Ice Cream & Dessert Bar KL

Sōfte Ice Cream and Dessert Bar opened just over a month ago on the ground floor of Ilham Tower. Designed by award-winning Foster + Partners, the sixty-story tower comprises grade-A office suites, a four-star hotel, an art gallery, and Food and Beverage outlets, Sōfte being the most recent. Rather than finding a mad scientist behind those deep-set portholes, we see the softly spoken, smiling, and polite figure of Chef Elwyn Boyles instead.

From the verdant landscape of Wales to the bustling metropolis of New York, Chef Elwyn Boyles has etched an indelible mark in the culinary world. He is best recognised for his illustrious 14-year tenure leading the pastry team and expanding Thomas Keller’s renowned repertoire of restaurants across California and New York. Among these esteemed establishments are The French Laundry and Per Se, both of which have garnered widespread acclaim and three Michlin stars. Boyles’ culinary expertise also took him to Tokyo, where he worked alongside head chef Daniel Calvert at Sézanne to develop and refine the restaurant’s pastry program. Calvert and Boyles first crossed paths while together at Per Se, where their shared passion for culinary excellence forged a solid professional bond.

After wrapping up his stint at Sézanne, Chef Boyles found himself looking for fresh opportunities in Asia—a continent he had grown fond of. Whispers in culinary circles pointed to Malaysia as the ideal destination. Known for its warm and welcoming people, Malaysia also boasts a burgeoning middle class eager to savour life’s finer pleasures, especially regarding gastronomic delights. Chef Boyles felt a sweet invitation—a beckoning from the nation’s dessert-loving heart. It was time to share his culinary magic with a population ready to savour every delectable bite.

Our friendly and attentive wait staff, Rebekah and Hara, warmly welcomed us and guided us through the menu before taking our orders. The colourful artwork adorning the walls immediately caught our eye, prompting us to inquire about its origins. We were delighted to meet Cheyenne Beh, the company’s marketing director.

Cheyenne shared that they commissioned artwork to introduce ice cream flavours and sundaes whimsically and engagingly. Collaborating with local artists, they achieved delightful results that genuinely captured the essence of these desserts. From movie poster-inspired designs to other creative pieces, the potential for these artworks to be transformed into charming T-shirts and accessories is evident. Cheyenne even hinted that they might make them available for purchase if there’s sufficient interest. Personally, I’d love to get my hands on some tea towels featuring the designs as fun gifts if they become available!

One particularly captivating design was a movie poster reminiscent of old Godzilla films. Cheyenne shared the inspiration behind it, describing how the idea of “Mint Vs Matcha” rather than “Mint & Matcha” was more intriguing and ultimately influenced the creation of this unique piece, which also features the Petronas Twin Towers.

New Cafe in Ilham Tower KL
New Cafe in Ilham Tower KL

Drinks Menu

Sōfte’s Hot Chocolate (RM13) is a rich and luxurious treat, expertly crafted with locally sourced chocolate and adorned with a cloud of freshly made marshmallows. This decadent beverage transports the palate to the streets of Spain, as its thick and creamy consistency rivals that of the renowned hot chocolate found in the country’s quaint cafés.

The star ingredient of this exceptional beverage is chocolate from a local, small-batch “tree to bar” chocolatier. The result is a genuinely distinctive hot chocolate experience, both indulgent and deeply satisfying, that pays homage to the craftsmanship and quality of its local source.

On a warm day, Sōfte’s Iced Chocolate (RM14) is a refreshing and delightful alternative to traditional coffee beverages. Crafted using the same locally sourced, artisanal chocolate as its hot counterpart, this icy concoction boasts the rich, indulgent flavours of a classic milkshake without the heaviness.

Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Iced & Hot Chcoolate

There are also two varieties of Kombucha (RM12) available. We began by tasting the Cocoa variety, a combo of chocolatey and tart flavours with a slightly creamy texture. This particular version was a revelation for individuals who typically find traditional Kombucha too sour or tart. Instead of the usual black tea, this Kombucha is brewed using cacao husks, resulting in a softer and more rounded taste.

Next, we sampled the Hibiscus Kombucha, a revitalising and invigorating blend crafted from Malaysia’s national flower. This vibrant beverage achieved a harmonious fusion of fruity and tangy elements, resulting in a delightful interplay of flavours on the palate.

Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Kombucha

Matcha

At Sōfte, patrons can indulge in three distinctive matcha varieties, each offering a unique taste profile. For those seeking a dairy alternative, soy or oat milk can be substituted for a small additional fee. All varieties can be savoured, either hot or cold, with the option to customise the sweetness or enjoy matcha’s pure, unadulterated essence. We selected the Izsuzu (RM 18), a premium ceremonial-grade matcha with a rich umami flavour and intricate grassy undertones.

Initially, I pondered the origins of this tea’s name, which shared a connection with the renowned Japanese automaker of compact, sporty vehicles. However, further investigation revealed that the car company Isuzu, and also this tea, derive their name from a river flowing past a Japanese shrine. The word “Isuzu” symbolises the harmonious pealing of fifty bells in celebration, an apt representation of the ceremonial quality and exquisite balance found within this premium matcha variety.

When prepared traditionally, I found the vegetal undertones too pronounced for my liking. I typically enjoy matcha more as a flavouring in desserts than as a stand-alone beverage. However, our videographer Juan greatly appreciated the Izsuzu, praising its exceptional quality.

In contrast, when the Isuzu matcha was served cold over ice with milk, I discovered a newfound love for the blend. The fresh milk helped balance the grassy notes, resulting in a refreshing and well-rounded drink I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Matcha – Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar

From the Oven

At this point, I have to make a confession. I’m usually not a huge fan of desserts and often skip them when I’m not reviewing meals for The YumLlist; however, Madeleines? My heart harbours a soft spot for them, a lingering romance from my days in France. A Madeleine or two, nestled alongside a steaming cup of coffee—ah, that’s poetry in pastry. Obtaining freshly made versions back in the UK and Malaysia is somewhat more challenging; those packaged impostors? As Pru Leith, the discerning “Great British Bake Off” judge, wisely quipped, “not worth the calories.” The first time I attempted to bake them myself, I discovered the secret to their moreish quality is the astonishing amount of melted butter that goes into the batter. 

So when Monica asked me, “Anything catch your fancy?” My gaze darted straight to the menu, where the Freshly Baked Madeleines with Soft Serve (RM 39) beckoned. But wait—there was more. Chef Boyles, the alchemist, had woven a spell: curry leaf-infused Madeleines—a dash of the exotic, a nod to tradition—an irresistible twist on a French classic. 

Upon my first taste of Sōfte’s madeleines infused with curry leaf, I had doubts about tampering with such a time-honoured recipe. However, as I delved further into the dish and sampled the madeleine alongside the banana-infused soft-serve ice cream, any reservations I had were quickly dispelled. The delicate, buttery madeleine featured a subtle sweetness beautifully accented by the curry leaf’s hint of citrus and spice—a daring, modern twist on the classic French delicacy. The herbal undertones melded effortlessly with the comforting creaminess of the banana-infused ice cream.

This unexpected marriage of sweet and savoury is a testament to Chef Boyles’ culinary prowess. While this unique dessert is currently the sole pastry offering on the menu, we have been informed that the selection will be expanded in the coming months to include other tantalising creations.

Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Freshly Baked Madeleines with Soft Serve

Sōfte Ice Cream Sundaes

The most popular menu item at Sōfte is undoubtedly their range of creative and unusual ice cream sundaes; they are available in two sizes: individually sized ‘All Mine’ (RM27) or the larger ‘To Share’ (RM 39). We started with the Pink Cow, an ingenious fusion of guava sorbet, crushed meringue, whipped milk, dragonfruit purée, and olive oil. This inventive creation evoked memories of a pavlova, where the sweet, crisp shards of pink meringue danced in lovely contrast to the luscious creaminess of the ice cream. The blend of tropical fruit flavours with the richness of whipped milk was balanced by the subtle depth of olive oil.

Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Pink Cow

We followed this with the Salted Egg Sundae, featuring luscious custard ice cream, creamy vanilla soft serve, puffed black rice, decadent liquid caramel, and delicate shavings of salted egg yolk. The latter added a distinct umami flavour and subtle saltiness.

Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Salted Egg Sundae

Our next indulgence was the Kek Batik Ft. Choc Concierge Sundae, an exquisite delight tailor-made for chocolate lovers. This divine creation featured double chocolate ice cream, caramelised milk jam, thinly sliced brownies, crushed digestive biscuits, and a luxurious chocolate soft-serve ice cream.

Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Kek Batik Ft. Choc Concierge

The star of this dessert was the exceptional chocolate sourced from Chocolate Concierge, a favourite of Monica’s since 2016. Known for revitalising Malaysia’s chocolate-growing industry, Chocolate Concierge is celebrated for its ethical sourcing practices, commitment to fair trade, and the masterful craftsmanship of its chocolatiers. 

Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Mashup Sundae

Our spoons next plunged into the Mashup Sundae, which contains chai and butter pecan ice cream, coffee purée, cocoa crumble, and whipped milk. It commenced with velvety chai ice cream, swirling alongside butter pecan ice cream. The result is a blend of warm spices and rich, nutty undertones. A ribbon of robust coffee purée meandered through the creamy canvas, awakening our palates with its bold taste.

As our videographer confessed that he was slightly lactose intolerant, Chef Boyles was eager to present a specially crafted solution—the unlisted ‘Secret Vegan Sundae.’ (RM 27 for an individual portion or RM 39 for a larger sharing size). This off-menu marvel is worth requesting, as it was undoubtedly one of the standout creations.

The Secret Vegan Sundae’s composition varies, with today’s offering showcasing a refreshing green apple sorbet and a vibrant, verdant green pandan sauce. These elements were expertly paired with luscious papaya cubes, resulting in a remarkable interplay of textures and flavours. Confectionary noodles provided a whimsical finishing touch.

Soft-serve & Ice Cream Scoops

All ice creams that go into the sundaes are also available as either a Single Scoop (RM 15) or a Double Scoop (RM 22), so you can mix and match to create unique flavour combinations. There are currently eight prepared gelato-style, including pink guava sorbet, toasted rice, chai, butter pecan, custard, corn and popcorn ripple, mint chocolate chip, and double chocolate. If you prefer your ice cream soft serve, you can choose between banana, chocolate, matcha and vanilla. 

The mint chocolate chip was a particularly memorable flavour that left a lasting impression on me. Its delicate, almost spearmint-like essence invoked a wave of nostalgia, whisking me back to the carefree days of my childhood. Yet, I am certain that this expertly crafted rendition of my beloved, nostalgic treat had been elevated to a standard unmatched by any I had experienced in my younger years.

Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Soft Serve
Sweets Cafe Ilham Tower KL
Ice Cream Scoops

Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar Review 

Sōfte transports visitors to a realm akin to a science fiction or superhero movie set. Here, the focus isn’t on concocting serums for superpowers; instead, it’s all about crafting extraordinary flavour combinations and truly exceptional ice cream. Chef Elwyn Boyles could very well be the Willy Wonka of the ice cream world. He has plans for more flavours and many more desserts, and I, for one, can’t wait to try them. 

Reasons to visit Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar: The answer lies in its supervillain laboratory science fiction styling, where extraordinary flavour combinations come to life. But the real showstopper? The curry leaf-infused Madeleines are paired with a banana soft-serve ice cream. Your brain may protest, but your taste buds will wholeheartedly agree: it’s a delightful and unexpected match that defies expectations.

Sōfte Ice Cream & Dessert Bar
Ground Floor Ilham Tower 8 Jalan Binjai
Kuala Lumpur 50450, Malaysia
+6 03 6412 2127
keepitsofte.com

Sōfte Opening Hours
Wednesday to Sunday: 12 pm – 9 pm

Find more of our favourite desserts in Kuala Lumpur here and stay up-to-date with the latest gourmet and travel recommendations for Malaysia here and here.

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