Chow Bella

Nami's Vegan, Organic, and Gluten-Free Desserts

Here in Phoenix, there's no bad time of the year to enjoy a frozen treat. Unfortunately for vegans, the lactose intolerant, and people who simply don't like the heaviness of milk, the most popular frozen desserts - ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt - are all dairy-based.

Thanks to Nami, located next to Green's new 7th St. location, everyone now has a place to stop for ice cream and pastries regardless of dietary constrictions.

And, the place even has a full coffee bar. The highlight of Nami is the specialty tSoynami treat, made of housemade organic soy-based "tsoft tserve" and mix-ins. Their menu features 18 varieties, including Chai Tiramisu and Vegan Ts'mores, or you can get creative and come up with your own original concoction.

How does tSoynami compare to regular soft serve? Find out after the jump...

As a huge fan of the Ben & Jerry's flavor of a strikingly similar name, I had to try the Clunky Monkey tSoynami, which has fresh banana chunks, organic pecan halves, and organic chocolate syrup. Sadly, mine didn't have much chocolate flavor, so I added chocolate chips (yes, vegan ones) at home to make up for the loss. The flavors were a lot more muted than the Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but since I ate the whole giant thing in under 20 minutes, it was clearly still enjoyable.

Dayvid tried the Rocky Road tSoynami, a super delicious combination of walnuts, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, and Ricemallow fluff - all organic. The Ricemallow was the best part, and the taste definitely compared to an egg-based marshmallow fluff. It was a light version of Rocky Road, but in a blind taste test, it could still be easily identified as the classic ice cream flavor.

So, the tSoyami flavor combinations are pretty tasty, but that doesn't matter unless the soy tsoft tserve is a winner. While it doesn't have the creamy richness of dairy-based ice creams, it has its own thing going for it.

Nami's tsoft tserve is very light and won't weigh you down. With a texture similar to homemade ice cream (y'know, the kind you made as a kid with rock salt and a coffee can or plastic bag), it's icier and a little watery compared to typical soft serve. After eating an entire tSoynami, I didn't have that, "Oh geez, why did I do that to my stomach?" feeling, always a major plus.

We couldn't stop by Nami without trying a vegan baked good, too. The options, including cookies, oatmeal cream pies, coffee cake, and "winkies" (like the classic Hostess snack), change on a daily basis.

When looking at Nami's pastry case, you'd never guess that what's inside is vegan. The only giveaway about the gluten-free Chai Tea Cupcake was the texture, which was a tad spongy (but not enough to stop someone from eating it), and the frosting didn't seem vegan at all. The only issue with the cupcake was with the flavors; it could have used more black tea flavor in the cake and less spice in the frosting. That aside, the baking technique was pretty impressive.

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Dominique Chatterjee