Ever since our last, critically acclaimed study of the practicality of ice cream sandwiches versus cones, we’ve been subjected to a litany of thinly veiled threats from a group of ice cream sandwich fanatics who demanded we reconsider our verdict. The name K Rustom kept popping up in a lot of these emails, which we, with our skills of inference took as a sign that they wanted us to check it out. Because official company policy dictates we negotiate with terrorists, (we still don’t know who snuck that clause in) we decided to take them up on their offer. The outcome of the cone wars, and quite possibly our lives, hung in the balance.
Only a short walk from the sprawling Churchgate train station and an even shorter distance from the unbridled beauty of Marine Drive is K. Rustom, a small shop in a nondescript building that is one of Mumbai’s greatest treasures. K. Rustom was started in 1953 by Khodabux Rustom Irani, the patriarch of a large Parsi family, and existed for decades as a pharmacy before they got their priorities straight and decided to sell ice cream sandwiches full-time. Despite being in a rather pretty old building, K Rustom isn’t very much to look at. There are no advertisements, no colourful posters, and no gimmicks like other more trendy ice cream parlours of today. They only barely even have a sign with their name on it outside. Their entire set up is one small row of plastic chairs lined up along a wall and two tiny cooling units for the ice cream. There is but one server, and an extremely old lady at the counter who looks like she’s been there since the place opened.
What they do have is a hand painted menu listing a seemingly random myriad of flavours; One for every Parsi that exists in Mumbai, & 47 in total; all the way from Guava and green mango to rum & raisin. They appeared to be busy, despite the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon, so rather than bother the nice people with our journalism, we decided to get down to business and order some ice cream.
Paan Ice Cream Sandwich
The Paan Ice Cream Sandwich tasted every bit like real paan, and they even managed to fill the center of the ice cream with a delicious heart of gulkhand, which probably took some serious R&D. We expected the ice cream to melt within minutes and drip all over us, with nothing to protect our virtue other than a tissue paper and the two wafers that made up the sandwich. Once again, we were wrong. The ice cream managed to last not just the entirety of our shoot, which took approximately fifteen minutes, but our walk back to Churchgate station as well.
Orange Ice Cream Sandwich
We ordered the Orange Ice Cream Sandwich because it seemingly violates the laws of chemistry. How could one possibly mix citrus and milk without things going terribly wrong? We handed it to an intern to make sure it was safe for human trials, and he reported that it tasted a lot like ‘orange flavoured wafer biscuits from childhood’. Because that’s something only a writer from ScoopWhoop would say, we had him shot for being a spy.
K Rustom is a relic from a time long before every ice cream shop in Mumbai had to have a Snapchat account or an Instagram-friendly decor. Our past experiences with ice cream sandwiches led us to believe they were silly, and they still largely are. That being said, we were genuinely delighted by K Rustom’s collection; not only were they delicious, they were cheap, structurally sound, and lasted for way longer than they needed to. It’s straightforward, simple and hasn’t turned the art of ice cream sandwichery into a gimmick with cookies or macaroons like so many new places do.
There is something extremely calming about biting into a slab of your favourite ice cream sandwiched between two deliciously crisp wafer biscuits, on the side of a bustling street at the heart of the bustling city. Maybe there is hope for ice cream sandwiches after all, at least we certainly think so.
This article was first published in our column for Urbane, a magazine for the “evolved man”.