Friday, May 29, 2009
dessert/frozen yogurt: i strongly recommend YOFROYO
at Shida Night Market
No.9, Ln.59, Shida Rd.
Kid friendliness: lots of free samples and kid pleasing marshmallows, mochi and sprinkles!
Visit reviewed: 5/18/2009
Everyone in LA has heard of Pinkberry. Maybe even heard of Red Mango, Yogurtland and the Frozen Yogurt Wars.
But in Taipei, the frozen yogurt wave is just beginning... there were some attempts here and there, but none that really seemed that they would take off until now. A few years ago, I even daydreamed to open a Yogurtland-berry-ish froyo place here and eat free frozen yogurt whenever I wanted, the way I wanted, but luckily for us, the founders of YoFroyo actually went ahead and did it.
YoFroyo is located in an alley off of the busy Shida Night Market, across from Subway. I would have never ventured there but for an email invitation letting me know about their Grand Opening. I couldn't make it then, but the call of tarty frozen yogurt (or fro yo, for short, hence the name YoFroYo) was too strong to let me wait too long to check it out.
And I'm glad I did. First off, next time I'd come with an empty stomach to the Shida Night Market since there are so many alleys full of street eats to sample, such as "gua bao", pan fried dumplings, crispy fried chicken cutlets or "G-pai" and sausages, just to name a few.
But if you are headed just for the frozen yogurt, you have a lot to choose from. There's an array of toppings, flavors and combinations. Most importantly, there were berries, or at least strawberries, and mango. They also have other confections- gummy bears, marshmallows, crumbled cookies, diced fruits, chocolate chips and even baby cream puffs to decorate your dessert. They also have freshly made baby mochi balls to choose from and quite a number of flavors (original, guava, taro, black sugar, blueberry, mango and lychee) to match whatever yogurt flavor you choose. The combinations ar endless. It's probably easier for locals to get the concept, since it's quite similar to picking and choosing your sweet toppings on shaved ice, which also comes in a plethora of colorful shapes and sizes.
If you've never had Pinkberry, the whole phenomenon came from the frozen yogurt being tart and sweet, rather than just overly sweet. Being a "healthy" dessert with fresh fruits, Pinkberry was even nicknamed "Crackberry" for its addictiveness. From that sprung entrepreneurial copycats with a twist, such as Yogurtland, which provided "pay as you weigh" and self service with 8-12 flavors of froyo to choose from. YoFroYo borrows a few elements from each and makes it own hopes of an Asian franchise- a shiny and hip plastic white and silver decor, a range of six tart to sweet yogurt flavors that can appeal to all ages and tastebuds, and putting an Asian influenced spin to it.
And it works. I really liked the green tea frozen yogurt with a dash of azuki red beans sample that I had. I liked the soft and squishy bite sized mochis that I tried.
All the choices can be a bit overwhelming and with all the signs to read (thankfully in both English and Chinese), I was a little overwhelmed at what to order.
But they try to make it easy for the newbies by giving you large samples and providing a list of wryly named Froyo creations like Tokyo Reverie, My Blueberry Night, Barbie Doll or Cookie Monster if you can't decide (which maybe would be easier to drool over if there were pictures to look at like Coldstones?)
But maybe most importantly, the portions are sizeable and the prices are great (perhaps a happy result of needing to be competitive with other night market eats and being near a university). A regular at NT$55 is totally shareable with 2 or 3 people, or large at NT$75 if you're really hungry.
And if you're not a fan of the tart or fruit flavored frozen yogurt (they currently have original tart, mango, blueberry, lychee), then you can get chocolate.
They even have a suggestion box for future flavors. I'd put a vote for peanut butter or strawberry, and white chocolate chips or yogurt chips toppings and of course, raspberry or blueberry toppings when they are in season. The founders are from UC San Diego and set on making it So-cal authentic.
As the weather gets hotter and word of mouth spreads, I'm sure we'll see more signs of a Taipei Yogurt War. Maybe you can be the "cool" one in your group to help your friends discover tarty frozen yogurt the next time you're tired of shaved ice.
What do you think? Is Taipei ready for tart froyo? Will you be checking it out?
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