Walking into Sweet Belly in Oakland’s Uptown district, it takes awhile to get a sense of what this place is all about.

The name is a big giveaway — Sweet Belly is a dessert spot selling sweets. But while it’s in a former dive Chinese takeout spot and is decorated like a space for afternoon tea, the tiny spot that opened last fall is primarily a soft serve ice cream eatery.

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Sweet Belly is from the same people behind the Asian burrito lunch spot Belly not too far away on San Pablo Avenue. As mentioned earlier, hand-crafted soft serve is the featured offering, made with choice of toppings and a made-to-order mini donut.

When I first visited, I was really interested in the mini donuts, which came in five different flavors: plain sugar, cinnamon, matcha, strawberry and orange zest. I was stumped, though, because you can only buy the mini donuts in a set of six for $5 (you can’t just buy one), and you can’t mix the flavors. You can only choose one flavor for all six instead of getting a mix.

Mini donuts available in five flavors and can be topped on a soft-serve cup.

Mini donuts available in five flavors and can be topped on a soft-serve cup.

Matcha cinnapuff is a brioche swirl cinnamon bun with an injection of fresh vanilla cream.

Matcha cinnapuff is a brioche swirl cinnamon bun with an injection of fresh vanilla cream.

I learned that the reason for this is because the donuts are made to order, which makes it difficult to fire up an order if you get a mix of flavors.

Because I wasn’t ready to chow down on six donuts, I instead ordered some of the other items offered. And it turned out to be this amazing matcha “cinnapuff “($3.75), which is a brioche swirled bun with a cinnamon bun filling that’s then injected with fresh vanilla cream. This is such an amazing and unique bite that I declared it to be the next new baked bite people in the Bay Area must try.

But beyond the “cinnapuff,” cookies and mini cakes available, I recently went back to try the main offering, which is the soft serve. When I visited, there were two flavors available: Earl Grey and chocolate. I got the Earl Grey and topped it with caramel coffee popcorn and the matcha sugar mini donut ($5.50).

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The ice cream had a distinctive Earl Grey flavor, which is a tremendous feat because I find it’s often hard to translate tea flavors into dessert. The mini donut was nice and warm, freshly made with the green of matcha (though not a strong matcha flavor). It was a fun, enjoyable treat.

Sweet Belly stands alone in a quiet block off Broadway next to a parking structure. It’s worth making a turn if you’re strolling Broadway to check out what it has to offer.

A box of six mini donuts with drizzle.

A box of six mini donuts with drizzle.

Tiny birthday cake for sale.

Tiny birthday cake for sale.

Close up of a cookie made with Fruity Pebbles cereal.

Close up of a cookie made with Fruity Pebbles cereal.

The deets: Sweet Belly, 435 19th St., Oakland. PH: 510.839.7295. Open Monday through Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. www.sweetbellydesserts.com

 

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