Cool Treats

A variety of artisan Italian gelato and sorbet at Gelatij Cafe
Living his ice-cream dream

“If I never start, I will never start,” was the thought that urged S. Aanan Thon, better known as Brian, to pursue his passion in creating his dream ice-cream.  He left a career with the Singapore Air Force after 12 years and went into Human Resource management for the next 10 years but his heart was still on making his own brand, tasty and affordable, Italian ice-cream.  So in 2009 he went for a formal training course with a Gelato Making School in Sicily, Italy to learn the finer points of making quality gelato.

A customer being personally served by Gelatij founder
and proprietor, S. Aanan Thon aka Brian
“I explored the Italian countryside to sample as many types of gelato as I could find,” said Brian as he recalled the varieties of flavours that he tasted.  And if any tasted agreeable, he went back for a repeat tasting so as to remember that flavour.  So since 2010 he started to live his dream, selling his traditional hand-stirred gelato in Singapore. 

Now artisan Italian gelato and sorbet are being enjoyed by a regular clientele of discerning customers at Gelatij Café that opened in Johor Baru in February.  Brian said the abundance of fresh fruit available locally helped him to decide to bring his art of ice-cream making and open an outlet here. 

A family of regulars give Gelatij cool treats the thumbs up!
By using local fruits and all natural ingredients, he is able to keep prices low and is proud that Gelatij Café guarantees the lowest prices in Malaysia and Singapore.

“Gelatij’s products are affordable and suitable for everyone,” said Brian because his gelato is made with a dairy base and natural fruit ingredients while the sorbet is created from local fresh fruits without any milk.  Customers can be assured that no artificial flavouring, colouring, additives, preservatives or alcohol are added.  

“There are also flavour choices that are suitable for vegetarians and diabetics,” he added confidently.

Customers are invited to add their comments to the wall!
First-timers at Gelatij Café may be curious about the scrawls on one of the walls but look closer and you will read comments that customers wrote after they have tasted the cool treats.  Brian welcomes feedback on his products and invites customers to leave their signatures and words on the wall.  He has even collected comments from customers from as far as Canada and Switzerland who happened to be in his neighbourhood, so don’t be surprised if you see customers searching for a spot to add their comments on the wall!

Gelato and sorbet are served either in cones or in 80-gram cups but you can be assured that Brian is “generous with his scoop.”  To encourage young people to enjoy the refreshing and affordable treat, students wearing school uniforms will get a RM1.00 discount on each cup.  “Then I’m doing justice to my passion!” laughed Brian.

Brian had a memorable time with Dolph Lundgren at Gelatij
Batches of gelati and sorbet are made fresh regularly so expect new flavour creations from time to time.  Some of the interesting flavours to savour at Gelatij include Chocolate Chillie, Coconut & Gula Melaka, Guava & Assam, Celery and Banana Mint.  Light snacks like rojak drizzled with peanut sauce, is in the menu at Gelatij.

One of the most memorable moments Brian had in Gelatij was that fine day in June when actor, Dolph Lundgren of Universal Soldier fame, dropped by at the café and enjoyed a cool treat.  The star was nearby for location shooting.

Gelatij Café is located at No. 8 Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Susur 1/1, 80000 Johor Baru.  Tel: 013 – 670 8878.  For more info, visit website:

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 22 October 2012

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