Edit 08/25/2013: Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato has closed.)
For months, I've watched as one by one, my fellow food bloggers have succumbed to the Pinkberry/Kiwiberry/CeFiore fad. I've snickered as I've read about people paying $6 for a cup or two of frozen yogurt and promised myself that I'd never be one of those people. I trusted that my Chinese-ness would prevent me from falling victim to such an uneconomical treat. Oh, how the arrogant have fallen. Chubbypanda has found healthy frozen yogurt religion, and it is good.
(So many flavors...)
New to Huntington Beach comes Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato, currently in its first week of business. Located a block down from the corner of Beach and Warner, in same the shopping center as Lotus Chinese Eatery, Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato offers light, delicious frozen yogurt and gourmet, hand-crafted gelato at very reasonable prices. I first heard about Beach Cities last week from my friend and fellow manager, Happy Hour. I was going to give them another week or two to settle in before swinging by, but the recent heat wave drove me to seek cool refreshment more quickly than I'd originally anticipated. I'm glad it did.
(David and Sarah.)
Owned and operated by David Nguyen, his sister, Lani, and his wife, Sarah, Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato is very much a family business. They chose their location on busy Beach Blvd. because of the heavy traffic in the area. However, although the long street is a major thoroughfare, it doesn't have many pedestrians. This means that Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato must pull most of its customers from the Huntington Plaza office tower down the street, neighboring businesses, and from the nearby high school. Unfortunately, this also means that Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato is competing against the popular Golden Spoon franchise located at the base of the office tower; a gutsy position to take for such a small mom & pop.
(They have mini-Gummi Bears!)
The premise behind Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato is simple. Customers are free to sample any of the eight varying kinds of fresh, frozen yogurt available (first picture in the article). They then get to fill up a Styrofoam bowl with as much frozen yogurt of any type as they like, and top it with an assortment of fresh fruit, syrups, candies, or nuts. The final product is weighed and charged at the rate of 30 cents per ounce, which is a pretty good price.
(Half Irish Mint and half Tart with chunks of mangos and strawberries.)
The frozen yogurt is simply amazing. I was lost as soon as I took my first bite. Light, creamy, full of flavor, and with a great mouth-feel, it really satisfies you without weighing you down. Unlike ice cream, which leaves you feeling bloated and sluggish, the frozen yogurt at Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato is a refreshing, guilt-free treat. I can eat an entire 12-ounce portion (1-1/2 cups), feel completely satisfied, and yet still want more. My favorites are the Irish Mint, perfect for cooling me down in this hot weather, and the Tart, which tastes like high-grade, slightly sweetened plain yogurt. I could practically live off of the Tart. The best part is, it only costs me $3.60.
The secret is in how the frozen yogurt is blended. According to David, all of the frozen yogurts are non-fat and low in sugar. A 6-ounce portion only contains 90 calories. This means my large, 12-ounce cup is only 200 calories with the fresh fruit. By comparison, a similarly sized portion of vanilla ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery weighs in at 920 calories. That's a pretty darn big difference.
(Made fresh every day.)
The gelato is equally good. Made fresh every day, the flavors are strong, interesting, and often-times unique. I'm particularly fond of the Coconut, the Mango, and the Limoncello. The difference between gelato and ice cream lies in the liquid used. Ice cream is usually made with half and half or Crème Anglais, which is custard made with cream and eggs. While this results in a very rich taste, it's also high in fat and calories. Gelato, on the other hand, uses whole milk, which is much lower in fat. The lower fat content allows for the formation of finer ice crystals, which gives gelato a smoother mouth-feel. Although it's less rich, gelato is even more intensely flavored than ice cream, since the lower fat content means less fat coats the tongue, allowing you to taste more of the other components. The use of whole milk also means that a 6-ounce portion of gelato weighs in at 120 calories. Once again, 240 calories for a 12-ounce portion of gelato beats 920 calories for the same amount of ice cream any day. If certainly doesn't hurt that the gelato at Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato is absolutely delicious.
When I first broke the news about their Grand Opening on Orange County Food Blogs, I posed the following question regarding the difference between Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato and Golden Spoon.
"Will moribund office workers, such as myself, be motivated enough to walk [an] extra block for a slightly different product?"
After trying Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato, I believe the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" They offer a great product for people like me who are interested in both great food and personal wellbeing. I hope more of my fellow office workers in the Huntington Plaza office tower, and the locals in the area, will take a few minutes to give Beach Cities a try. You won't be disappointed.
Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato - For a great-tasting, healthy alternative to the usual frozen treats. Another mom & pop, family business with a great product that deserves our support. Have lunch at Lotus Chinese Eatery, then stop by Beach Cities for dessert. It's a killer combination guaranteed to brighten up your work day.
From now until May 14th, Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato is offering all of their great products for half off, no coupon needed. Take advantage of this Grand Opening special while it lasts.
Bill (at full price)
12-ounce frozen yogurt with fruit - 3.60
Large gelato - 3.95
Beach Cities Yogurt & Gelato
16895 Beach Boulevard
Huntington Beach, CA 92647