URUMQI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Upon his arrival in Yining, one of China's westernmost cities, Liu Junjie, traveling all the way from the southern coastal province of Guangdong, could not wait to savor the local signature street food -- Ili ice cream.
"I've anticipated it for a long time, and finally got a taste of it," said Liu. "I can eat it all day. I'll definitely recommend it to my friends."
Gulandam, the ice cream shop that Liu visited, is located in a tourist destination in Yining, Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Ili ice cream is a time-honored local specialty known for its thick, yet silky texture and creamy flavor. The handmade treat is a fusion of the characteristics of ice creams of various ethnicities living in the prefecture.
Built in 2019 in a former courtyard, Gulandam soon became a hit with the rapid development of local tourism. It can receive more than 3,000 diners a day during the busy season, according to Wang Cheng, the shop owner.
"Our ice cream combines the traditional ice cream-making techniques of the Uygur and other ethnic groups," said Wang, who has developed over 30 flavors with more than 20 ingredients.
Ili ice cream has also drawn a legion of fans online. In video clips and photos posted on social media platforms, visitors can be seen enjoying an ice cream buried beneath thick layers of jam, nuts and dried fruit, or posing against the picturesque scenery with an ice cream in hand.
Constant industrial development and the business acumen of local businesspeople have also made it possible for people in other parts of China to indulge their sweet tooths with the frozen treats on their doorstep.
Amatjan Abduriyim decided to open an ice cream factory in Yining after getting a degree in food science and engineering.
"Our business is getting on track," said Amatjan Abduriyim, adding that orders from other parts of China are increasing.
Since last year, over four tonnes of ice cream have been sold to southwest China's Chengdu city, central China's Henan Province and other regions, Amatjan Abduriyim said.
"I never thought the ice cream that used to be peddled along the streets of Ili would develop into an industry with such a big market," Wang said.