Afters Ice Cream, 13920 City Center Drive (the Shoppes at Chino Hills), Chino Hills
There aren’t many food items the Inland Valley is willing to line up for. Ice cream at Handel’s, especially on $1 cone days (Wednesdays in Upland, Thursdays in Rancho Cucamonga). Menudo on weekends, various locations. Maybe turkey legs at the Fair.
But there’s almost always a line out the door at Afters, a start-up ice cream parlor at the Shoppes. (The first Afters is in Fountain Valley; a third one is coming.) Part of that is demand, part is cleverness. There may always be 20 people in line, give or take, and that’s impressive. But the staff isn’t in a hurry to move them along, which means the line usually stretches outdoors. A well-connected friend says: “The strategy I’ve heard is, they have two cash registers, but they only open one. They know that a line creates buzz. It connotes popularity.”
I’ve been there three times since its opening in January. (Somehow Afters was able to locate across from Pinkberry, which makes me wonder if Pinkberry failed to get a non-compete clause in its lease.)
Afters makes its own ice cream, in creative flavors such as Vietnamese coffee, acai blueberry, milk and cereal, and cookie monster, and it offers some mix-ins. The thing to get is the milky bun. It’s a doughnut-like bun about the size of a hamburger bun, which they’ll cut open and put your ice cream in, then heat briefly. The bun is warm, the ice cream stays cold. A milky bun with one flavor and one mix-in is $5.
I’ve had jasmine milk tea (with mochi, below), mint monster (with Oreos, up top) and churro (with Cinnamon Crunch ice cream). Once I had the unglazed milky bun and switched back to glazed the next time. I ask the staff what mix-in they recommend with my flavor choice and go with that. They do this for a living, after all.
The result is like a soft ice cream sandwich. You can get ice cream sandwiches at Dripp, elsewhere in the Shoppes, and those are excellent, with homemade cookies and ice cream. The milky bun is unique, though, and while it’s not pie, it’s awfully good. If your attitude is, “Isn’t that just a doughnut with ice cream in it?”, my answer would be, “Basically, yes. And it tastes amazing.”
If the milky bun is too much for you, they sell their ice cream by the scoop.
Their spelling could use some work, I regret to say. Let’s hope no one is using this hashtag. *
* It turns out “No Ragrets” is a sly joke that began in the comedy “We’re the Millers.” See comments below.