Our ever-humid city state might not be getting any cooler, but at least our cooling off options are. The mass market sees a mushrooming of chains such as Honey Crème from Taiwan and I See I See from Hong Kong that have incited snaking queues for their Korean-inspired soft serves and icy popsicles to beat the heat, while local chefs in high-end restaurants are pushing the envelope and coming up with whacky innovations that taste pretty darn good. From bright zesty pops to quirky ice cream flavours, here’s our scoop on the coolest alternatives out there, including a nod to old-school sweet treats that just can’t be beat:

1)      Pops of colour

Icy gourmet popsicles made from fresh fruit and coconut water for a refreshing take.

Here’s a reason to graduate from the sticky neon orange popsicles of yesteryear: local brands like Momolato and Popaganda, and Hong Kong offshoot I See I See, have come up with alternatives that are just as cheery in colour, but with a much higher gourmet quotient. The differently-flavoured pops usually have a base of coconut water, raw honey and whole fruits like kiwi or watermelon. Opt for the milk-based flavours – the ones from Momolato use only Hokkaido milk – on days you crave something creamier. Momolato: www.momolato.com Popaganda: www.popaganda.com.sg I See, I See: #B3-46, 313@Somerset

2)      A soft spot

Swirls of soft serve from Overrun and Honey Creme that are light as air.

That tower of sexy swirls. Pumped with more air and containing less butterfat, soft serve is the lighter version of regular churned ice cream. Though best enjoyed in a cup as it melts fast, at Taiwanese chain Honey Crème we like the soft serve on cone, and topped with caramel popcorn. For a local spin, new takeaway store Overrun churns out chendol soft serve topped with pandan jelly, desiccated coconut flakes and a generous drizzle of gula melaka syrup. Overrun: 18 Baghdad Street Honey Crème: #01-37, 313@Somerset  

3)      Close shave

Local ice kachang gets a makeover with these shaved ice desserts from Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Meet the international renditions of ice kachang(shaved ice)- Korean bingsu, Taiwanese shaved snow, and Japanese kakigori. New shabu-shabu joint Sakurazaka does a European-inspired port wine kakigori with cubes of wine jelly and mandarin oranges, while Taiwanese outfit Smoothie House shaves a mango juice-infused block of ice imported from Taiwan to get feathery light ruffled ribbons of mango ‘snow’ that is topped with a wobbly panna cotta. For a different take on bingsu, the black sesame one at Nunsongyee is made from shaved milk for a finer texture. Sakurazaka: 24 Greenwood Avenue Smoothie House: #03-25, One Raffles Place Nunsongyee: 534 North Bridge Road  

4)      Sugar and spice

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Once seen as the boring but necessary side-kick to the likes of molten chocolate cakes, the quenelle of ice cream is finally returning to the limelight thanks to chefs injecting it with daring new flavours. Think a bold laksa leaf ice cream at new restaurant Cheek by Jowl, paired with a tangy and slightly spicy green chilli sauce and refreshing pomelo bits, or the chilli and black pepper crab version with a sprinkle of mantou crumbs over at Restaurant Labyrinth. Cheek by Jowl: 21 Boon Tat Street Restaurant Labyrinth: #02-23, Esplanade Mall  

5)      Back-to-school cool

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Nothing spells nostalgia like a Magnolia ice cream sandwich from the itinerant ice cream man. With   fewer ice cream carts trawling neighbourhood streets now (though you’ll find at least four along Orchard road), buying a brick of ice cream from the grumpy-faced uncles chopping up those icy slabs of familiar favourites like raspberry ripple, corn and atap seed, becomes a real treat. If you want your dose of nostalgia but cannot deign to have a rapidly melting pile on your hands, by the streetside no less, head over to Shashlik. The 30-year-old restaurant still uses the same supplier for the vanilla ice cream in their classic baked Alaska dessert – and this was after diners protested when staff tried changing it for more commercial brands like Ben & Jerry’s. Ice-cream wafer sandwich: Cart operated by Uncle Tan Ah Hock, outside ION Orchard Shashlik: #06-19, Far East Shopping Centre   GMonogram