Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weirdest Places for Fro-yo

Fro-yo girl here. Fro-yo can happen anywhere. All one needs is the space for a fro-yo machine, a refrigerator, a sink, an area to chop fruit, and room for toppings.
Here's a look at some of the unusual places that offer fro-yo in the Bay Area.
  1. CLEAR OPTOMETRY: 138 E 3rd St., San Mateo, CA. One side of the store features a swanky eyewear store with frames from Chanel and other brands, the other side features a dessert bar with delicious fro-yo and several flavors of mochi toppings. Yum. This is my favorite "weird" place for fro-yo. Get your eyes examined there or buy eyeglasses, get free fro-yo!

  2. KIWITIWI: 569 High St., Oakland, CA. Part car wash, part convenience store, part fro-yo shop. It would qualify for the strangest place if it didn't have the convenience store as well. While people who are waiting for a car wash have time to sit around and enjoy fro-yo, the fumes from the car wash are less than pleasant.

  3. MICHAELI'S WINE & SPIRIT: 2198 Union St, San Francisco, CA. It's not unusual for liquor stores to have delis but this is the first time I've seen one with fro-yo too. What a great idea! I'd rather have a corner fro-yo shop than a corner liquor store.

  4. BLONDIE'S PIZZA: various locations. Greasy, cheap pizza and now fro-yo? Blondie's reminds me of college and certainly college students are among those who enjoy fro-yo. I didn't like their tart fro-yo but the sweet flavors might be better.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuttimelon Open on Thanksgiving Day!

To my surprise, Tuttimelon on Irving St. was open for business today. I drove by and saw a couple of people enjoying fro-yo.

With any luck they'll be open for Xmas too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Fro-Yo on Thanksgiving

Fro-yo girl here. With fro-yo shops closed on Thanksgiving Day, what's a fro-yoholic to do?

1. Buy Cyclops Greek Style frozen yogurt at Whole Foods ($4.99 a pint, flavors include mango, banana, coffee, raspberry). There isn't a plain or honey flavor. I tried the mango flavor.

Cyclops organic fro-yo is made in New Zealand and contains egg yolk. The texture is firm and creamy, very similar to ice cream. It isn't tart but it is sweet and somewhat tangy. The tangy flavor is different from the tanginess of most tart fro-yos I've tried. It's hard to describe but reminds me of goat cheese. It had a few chunks of mango. I wasn't too crazy about the product and wouldn't get it again. I prefer Haagen Dazs's sweet fro-yo, particularly vanilla with honey and granola.

2. Buy fro-yo to go from your local fro-yo shop. Some fro-yo shops offer to go containers (usually family size). I bought a quart of pumpkin tart fro-yo from my favorite fro-yo shop, Culture Organic Frozen Yogurt in Palo Alto. They have insulated bags and the fro-yo survived my one hour drive home.

I was also worried about what freezing would do to the texture of the fro-yo. In this case, it does firm up and it brings out the iciness of the fro-yo. Still delicious! It keeps in the freezer for a week. I'm bringing some to Thanksgiving dinner.

Some fro-yo shops sell "yogurt pie." I've never had fro-yo pie but I'm definitely curious about it.

3. Freeze regular yogurt. I've tried this with many brands. The end result tends to be too hard and icy, but it's still nice to have a fro-yo fix on hand. I prefer YoPlus for the wider cup (easier to scoop out the fro-yo).

4. Make your own fro-yo. I'm too lazy to do this.

You know you love me. XOXO, fro-yo girl.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grand Opening Weekend at Swirl Culture, Nov. 22 & 23

Swirl Culture's second location in Union Square is now open. To kick things off, they have a bogo, 2 for 1 deal this weekend (Nov. 22 & 23).

* SWIRL CULTURE: 211 O'Farrell St. @ Powell, San Francisco, CA

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2-for-1 at Chill Desserts on Nov. 28 - 29

Fro-yo girl here. Just in time for the crazy holiday shopping weekend...Chill is offering a 2 for 1 deal for their desserts. Bring a friend or loved one for a fro-yo shopping break. Chill is on the same block as Loehmann Shoes.

They updated their website - it has the menu now:

I know I definitely want to try a made to order crispy crepe cone with original frozen yogurt, black sugar and fresh berries.

You know you love me. XOXO, fro-yo girl.

* CHILL: 125 Kearny St., San Francisco, CA

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughts on Fro-Yo Flavors

Fro-yo girl here. Since flavor seems like an obvious way for fro-yo shops to differentiate themselves, it’s interesting that so many shops have the same flavors. Perhaps this is because of the limited number of suppliers of fro-yo mixes (e.g., YoCream, Cielo) but I know YoCream offers custom mixes so that doesn’t explain away the lack of variety. I can understand why the original/plain tart flavor is the most common as it usually serves as the base for other tart flavors. Berry fro-yo perhaps is perceived as a better counterpart to the popular fresh berry toppings.

I'm puzzled by the absence of citrus tart fro-yo. Since citrus fruits are tart, I think they would make for wonderful tart fro-yo flavors. I’d love to see the following fro-yo flavors one day:
* Tangerine
* Grapefruit or pomelo
* Blood orange
* Meyer lemon
* Yuzu
* Kumquat
* Kaffir lime

Spices like ginger, cardamom and lemongrass would make for wonderful tart fro-yo flavors as well.

Finally, a honey tart fro-yo seems like a natural flavor extension since honey is a popular fro-yo topping and honey tastes amazing with plain fro-yo.

If I had to give an award for innovative fro-yo flavors, it would go to Chill for black sesame and red rooibos tea tart fro-yo flavors.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* CHILL: 125 Kearny St., San Francisco, CA

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tuttimelon Irving 99 Cents Promo Ends

Fro-yo girl here. Sadly, all good things come to an end. The 99 cents special for the small original fro-yo is OVER. Finito. Time to cry. The promotional price lasted for eight months, so thank you Tuttimelon for making these past few months a little happier for so many people (including me). I remain your loyal fan and I'll continue to collect stamps on my Tuttimelon card. Plus, I look forward to your future grand openings on West Portal, Broadway, 24th St., San Mateo, etc. Thanks for the memories.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* TUTTIMELON: 2150 Irving Street, San Francisco

More Fro-Yo Shop Grand Openings: Cefiore, Yoppi in SF

Yoppi Yogurt is open now but the grand opening celebration is on Wednesday (November 19th) at noon. The first 150 customers who make a purchase will receive a free reusable bag. It’s a self-serve shop with four flavors of fro-yo priced at 45 cents an ounce (the most expensive in the Bay Area).

Cefiore is also open on New Montgomery Street. Drop by the shop to get a coupon for the grand opening celebration on Thursday, November 20 from 12 - 7 PM. You need the physical coupon to get a free mini fro-yo (toppings not included). The coupon is good only at the Montgomery St. location.

* YOPPI YOGURT: 475 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA
* CEFIORE: 59 New Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Red Mango Pomegranate Fro-Yo Today at 4 PM

Fro-yo girl here. I’m excited that pomegranate is now the new “in” tart fro-yo flavor with Red Mango officially launching its new Pomegranate by POM Wonderful flavor today (free small pomegranate fro-yo to the first 100 customers starting at 4 PM). Pomegranate tart happens to be one of my favorite tart fro-yo flavors (tied with mango tart). You can see that I was excited by the return of pomegranate seeds just a few weeks ago.

November also happens to National Pomegranate Month and Red Mango is beating Pinkberry/Stinkberry to the punch (Pinkberry will introduce its pomegranate fro-yo next week according to NYMag - but I've seen reports that it is already available at some locations). The partnership with POM Wonderful is also a smart idea. POM Wonderful is a premium, all natural juice and Red Mango also positions itself as premium and all natural. It’s taken SO long for Red Mango to come out with a new flavor that I think they’re going to see a huge response. Also, their Pomegranate fro-yo is there for a limited time.

I’m confident that Red Mango’s pomegranate fro-yo will be much better than Stinkberry’s. I’ll review their pomegranate fro-yo later today.

Update: It's tasty (the RM pomegranate fro-yo). Of course it tastes like pomegranate since it's flavored with 100% pomegranate juice concentrate (from POM Wonderful) but they also add quite a bit of sugar so that the end result isn't sour at all but is tangy and extremely creamy. I personally like the tartness of pomegranates so I'd prefer the flavor to have less sugar, but Red Mango has sweeter fro-yo so the flavor they introduced meets my expectations.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Orange Tree IS Tutti Frutti???

Fro-yo girl here. Honestly, with so many fro-yo places out there, a fair number seem fairly generic. If you had a feeling of déjà vu when you visited Orange Tree, and you’ve been to Tutti Frutti before, there’s a reason for that feeling. Yes, they’re both knock-offs of Yogurtland or some other self-serve fro-yo shop with the same type of plastic, vaguely modern décor and a fruity name – but they’re also part of the same franchise (let’s call it Tutti Frutti to reduce confusion).

The evidence is simple.

If you go to the Tutti Frutti website ( and click on locations, the Milpitas location of Orange Tree is listed, along with the future location at the Stanford Shopping Center. The Stanford location had a Tutti Frutti sign but it was recently switched to an Orange Tree sign.

Changing names isn’t going to disguise the poor quality and flavor of their fro-yo. TF is rapidly expanding. They should have perfected their product first and then opened their stores. Apparently they also chose a name that another company already had (there's a Tutti Frutti in Pasadena that sells fro-yo, fruit salad and Colombian hot dogs).

I’m very surprised that Stanford Shopping Center doesn’t have higher standards for their fro-yo vendors.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.
Update: Someone left a comment on this blog saying that Orange Tree and Tutti Frutti terminated their contract and that they do not use the same product. I noticed the TF fro-yo was a little better than Orange Tree's.

Tart Pumpkin Fro-Yo Arrives at Culture

Fro-yo girl here. Fall is definitely here and Culture just unveiled a new fro-yo flavor this week, tart pumpkin. I’ve had plenty of sweet pumpkin fro-yos but never tart pumpkin. I wasn’t sure how the tartness would work with the pumpkin flavor.

I trust Alexis’s palate (she’s the yogurt-in-chief) and sure enough, pumpkin is another winner. The pumpkin pie spices actually complement the sourness of the fro-yo. I think she’s on to something. Maybe ginger, cardamom and saffron and lemongrass would also work well as tart fro-yo flavors.

For fans of their strawberry tart fro-yo, hurry back to Culture. They plan on replacing strawberry with vanilla soon.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mix-In Fro-Yo

Fro-yo girl here. Though uncommon, some fro-yo shops have a special mixing machine that creates mix-in fro-yo. Think Dairy Queen Blizzard only with plain fro-yo instead of ice cream and frozen fruit instead of candy bits. The mixing machine is considerably cheaper than the soft serve machines most fro-yo shops have and the mix in method results in a different texture and taste. Using frozen fruit adds a pleasant icy quality to the thicker, chunkier and softer mix-in yogurt while using whole fruit can also add texture (e.g., seeds, larger pieces of fruit).

These are the four places to get mix-in fro-yo in the Bay Area:

Poco Café: 1688 Hostetter Rd, San Jose, CA
My favorite mix-in fro-yo and also the best value, choose from a wide variety of fruit flavors. The end result is chunkier than other places. Some of the plain frozen yogurt base didn’t get mixed in with the fruit but I think that added to the homemade charm.

Yogen Fruz: 3 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA
Called Blend It, you get to select up to two types of frozen fruit and the base (non-fat vanilla, low-fat vanilla, non-fat/sugar-free vanilla or chocolate). It’s the smoothest of the mix-in fro-yos with a more pronounced flavor of the base yogurt. It’s the only place that provides multiple choices for the yogurt base.

Tartini: 20488 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, CA
Tartini Twister has a creamy vanilla fro-yo base and comes with your choice of frozen fruit.

Sweet Retreat: 6061 Cahalan Ave, San Jose, CA (and other locations in San Jose, Morgan Hill and Los Gatos)
The mix in yogurt is called the “create your own yogurt” option. It starts with their plain fro-yo base. Unlike the other shops, you can add candy and/or frozen fruit to the mix-in yogurt.

Note, Penguino’s in the Metreon (SF) also has a create your own flavor, mix-in fro-yo. I refuse to try it though, because their soft-serve fro-yo is horrible.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Prices Go Up at Tuttimelon on Irving St.

Fro-yo girl here. I stopped in for my usual small original tart fro-yo with one topping (juicy pomegranate seeds). The small original + one topping used to be under $2. Tonight it rang up as $2.10. For sure the price of the toppings went up - to 95 cents each, I think. The yogurt itself (original flavor) is still 99 cents. I didn't look at the menu too closely because I was expecting the usual price. It's still a steal though and the pom seeds were excellent. They complement the tartness of the fro-yo so well.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* TUTTIMELON: 2150 Irving Street, San Francisco

Signs of Asian Ownership

Fro-yo girl here. The majority of the tart fro-yo shops in the Bay Area are Asian owned. Having visited many shops, I noticed that there are certain indicators of Asian ownership, including:

(1) Presence of orchids, bamboo plants or money trees wrapped with red ribbons. Bamboo plants are considered to be lucky and are used in feng shui to represent the element of wood.

(2) Asian fro-yo toppings, particularly red bean paste, lychee, jackfruit, and jellies. Most shops have mochi balls now but if they don't, you can be fairly sure that the owners aren't Asian.

(3) Asian employees

(4) The shop is a year old (or newer) and specializes in tart fro-yo or self-serve fro-yo.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Worst Places for Fro-Yo

Fro-yo girl here. Unless you feel the need to try every fro-yo shop, take my advice, save your money and avoid getting fro-yo at the following places:

* Marble Slab Creamery: I don't think they have tart fro-yo but even their vanilla fro-yo is really bad. Definitely tastes like artificial sweetener. The fruit toppings are frozen.

* Cold Stone Creamery: They offer a scoopable tart fro-yo called Tart & Tangy. The flavor is a little better than Marble Slab's but not by much. It's an odd flavor that tastes citrusy but not milky and tangy in the way real yogurt would taste. The fruit toppings are frozen.

* Penguino's: 101 4th St. (inside the Metreon), San Francisco, CA, 94103
Not only does their plain tart taste like watered down bland ice milk, the portion is very stingy.

* Michael's Gelato: 440 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301
They've made a half-hearted attempt at offering fro-yo called Tart Tango. The orange flavor tasted like powdered orange drink mix and isn't tart. The fruit toppings were rotten.

* Sweet Corner: 650 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041
The yogurt tastes awful and the texture is weird - very grainy.

* Orange Tree: 510 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035
Too icy, bland, artificial tasting tart fro-yo in a self-serve setting.

* DIY Yogurt: 20956 W Homestead Rd#D, Cupertino, CA 95014
It's hard to tell which flavors are supposed to be tart. They all taste like they're artificially sweetened. Mediocre self-serve fro-yo.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Culture Adds Yogurt Parfaits

Fro-yo girl here. My reusable blue smurf bowl was spotted again at Culture Organic Frozen Yogurt. Once again, they've added multiple new items. They had slices of their homemade apple cake, $2 each. And they now have build your own yogurt parfaits with Straus yogurt (not frozen yogurt) and of course access to their wonderful organic homemade toppings, fresh fruit, honey, dried fruit, etc.

I think the parfait is a great idea. I am not a parfait eater but I think they're mostly eaten for breakfast; if so, the fact that Culture doesn't open till 11 AM poses a bit of a problem for the parfait eaters in the area.

I also noticed that their fro-yo is different every time I go. Tonight the strawberry fro-yo didn't have as much strawberry flavor. The original fro-yo has gone from chunky and stiff, to creamy, to suddenly fluffier. The consistency issue bothers me a bit. I like my fro-yo creamy and denser.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* CULTURE ORGANIC FROZEN YOGURT: 340 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA, 94306

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Chill Grand Opening Specials, Nov. 5, 6, 7

$1 Organic Coffee Americano
$2 Small Fro-yo with 1 exotic topping
$3 Crispy Crepe Cone with fro-yo and choice of exotic topping

CHILL: 125 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA
Mon–Fri 11am–7pm

New Batch of Future Fro-yo Shops

Keep your eyes open for the following:

242 Serra Way, Milpitas, CA 95035
From the application for conditional use by owner, Hanh Nguyen: “The project proposal consists of a 1,730 square foot yogurt store with ten seats inside and four seats outside. The proposal is a “self-serve” yogurt store where the customers will serve themselves yogurt and toppings, and then pay for their yogurt at the counter. No table service is proposed. The floor plan also includes a prep area, restrooms, a private office and storage space. The business is proposing to be open between the hours of 8:00 AM and 12:00 AM (Midnight).”
Projected opening: mid-November 2008

San Ramon, CA
Self-serve fro-yo in an upscale setting
Projected opening: December 2008

Camden Ave.
Campbell, CA
Yogurt, espresso drinks, sandwiches, pastries

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fro-ggie Coupon Good Till 12/31/08, Soy Fro-yo

Here's a link to a site with a coupon for Fro-ggie. Get one free topping, good till the end of the year:

Fro-ggie is one of the only places in the Bay Area that offers soy fro-yo. Fraiche in Palo Alto also has soy fro-yo. I'm surprised that soy fro-yo is so rare since lactose intolerance is common and soy milk has gained popularity among the same segment of consumers who are likely to favor fro-yo. There are several brands of soy frozen yogurt in the supermarket frozen foods section. I'd love to see a fro-yo shop open that only offered soy-based fro-yo. Soy Yo? Soyriffic?

* FROGGIE: 1554 Washington Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539
* FRAICHE: 644 Emerson, Suite 110, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Two Fro-Yo Shops Opening Today

* Chill - 125 Kearny St., San Francisco

It's not a Stinkberry clone in appearance or product. Chill has some fro-yo flavors that I've never seen before and higher quality toppings. It's upscale and the portions are smaller. The ambiance is serene and organic (wood, flower illustrations).

Fro-yo flavors: Original tart, red rooibos tea tart, black sesame tart and custard (sweet)

Toppings: About a dozen fresh fruit purees, including lychee, mango, fig, acai, pineapple, fresh fruit pieces, dry toppings like mochi, rice pearls (think rice krispies coated in chocolate), crispy flakes (thin, crunchy wafer bits), chocolate covered sunflower seeds, yogurt covered dried cranberries, nuts, etc.
Other menu items: Cupcakes, shaved ice, crepes, coffee, tea, blended drinks

For something different, I recommend red rooibos tea fro-yo. It's fresh, clean and refreshing tasting.
P.S. I'm mentioned in Eater SF: "2) Financial District: It's possible that Chill picked the worst weekend of the season to open a froyo/dessert cafe, but we suppose not even froyo purveyors can control the weather. One enthusiastic Yelper has a thorough summary of the place, including flavors (original, custard, black sesame) and prices. Also, free Wifi, FYI. 125 Kearny Street, between Post and Sutter; (415) 433-1233; website [EaterWire]"

* Orange Tree - Milpitas Square, 510 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA, 11AM - 11 PM, self-serve, 35 cents/ounce, 50% off this weekend
There's nothing about this place that really stands out except that they have more tart fro-yo flavors than most self-serve fro-yo places. The tart fro-yo is very icy and low in quality. I didn't like any of the tart fro-yo flavors they had. Orange Tree reminds me of an inferior version of Tutti Frutti. Like other fro-yo shops, they tout the health benefits of fro-yo, have those spherical orange chairs, and offer the standard toppings. Parking in Milpitas Square is a nightmare. Skip this one!