Cold fried ice cream has made it in the Big Apple, and now it has made it to Destin. Alex Ou, originally from Fujian China, has just opened Frozen Dune Cold Fried Ice Cream Sushi & Smoothies in Miramar Beach, and said the process and flavor of the ice cream is what makes it special.

“There are about 10 other ice cream stores in Destin, but this is unique.” Ou said. “It’s originally from Thailand, and the first one opened in New York in Chinatown in 2015. I lived there for three years and I decided to bring it to Destin because they don’t have it here; I missed it – it’s delicious.”

The cold fried ice cream process at Frozen Dunes begins with a liquid Hershey’s vanilla ice cream base and whatever mixture you have chosen to be added in. Current options include Crack Me Up – which is strawberries and graham crackers; Ice Ice Baby – which is Oreos and M&Ms; Reese’s Happiness – which is peanut butter and Nutella; Pineapple Concrete – which is solely pineapple; or Chunky Monkey – which is peanuts and chocolate syrup.

For the second step, the staff freezes the ice cream while chopping and stirring everything together. The process looks much like a hibachi chef cooking up fried rice – hence the name cold fried ice cream.

“It’s very interesting,” said Ou of the cold fried ice cream experience. “When you eat our ice cream, it’s not chunky because we chop it finely. It’s all made on a cold freezing pan.”

The third step involves the staff scraping the frozen mixture off the pan with the hibachi-style spatulas. This motion creates ice cream "rolls" that are then stacked neatly into a cup.

Then the final step is customization. Each Frozen Dunes ice cream creation comes with three toppings of the customers’ choice. Toppings include strawberries, gummy bears, marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate drizzle and many others.

“Kids love it,” said Ou. “We’ve had whole families come in here to watch us make the ice cream.”

Ou said that he has lived in Destin on and off for six years – having moved to New York for a time to manage a sushi restaurant – and now he has returned to run his family’s Chinese buffet business New Dragon Chinese Buffet and Mongolian Grill in Destin as well as his new fried ice cream venture.

“The reason I moved back to Destin is because it’s beautiful and my hometown in China is the same weather as here,” he said.

Besides cold fried ice cream, Frozen Dunes also offers sushi, smoothies, scooped Hershey’s ice cream and fountain drinks. Ou explained that each item he carries has a purpose. The fountain drinks, he said, are a natural demand for a shop directly across from the beach, and the sushi?

“It was my dream when I was a little boy to join the military, but I have  a family and two businesses,” he said. “(Then) it was my dream to open a sushi restaurant.”

Ou added that he still has a huge appreciation for military service, and even serves on the Coast Guard Auxiliary himself as a Chinese translator. As a nod of appreciation to the military, Ou offers free beverages to active duty members at Frozen Dunes.