Monday, 20 May 2013

Yo-Chi Frozen Yogurt, Balaclava, Melbourne

Yo-Chi an appetite for life frozen yogurt balaclava melbourne

Frozen yogurt you say - didn't we already pass by that fad? Well, I assure you, that fad is alive and well down here in Melbourne town. Thanks to my friend the impeccable Mr Oliver Blaker, I had the privilege of visiting Balaclava's newest hotspot, Yo-Chi. Frozen yogurt, primarily marketed to young health-conscious twenty/thirty-something, is common these days but Yo-Chi does it a little differently. Yes, it still sports claims such as 'gluten-free' (isn't all yogurt?), 98% fat-free, and some flavours even sport a sugar-free claim. Be wary however, as this one is sweetened by honey, which is largely the same thing.

But where Yo-Chi excels is in three specific ways: decor. add-ons. flavours.

With the widest range of yogurt flavours I have come across, I took it upon myself to try as many as possible. Highlights were the ridiculously sweet but delicious Chai, and the dairy-free honey-soybean. Their flavours are freshly made daily and on rotation, meaning you will have to visit a few times to try all their offerings. Along with the ubiquitous original, chocolate, and strawberry, you can find Peanut Butter, Apple Pie, Pomegranate, Green Tea, Coconut, Passionfruit and Hazelnut.

Yo-Chi add-ons bar frozen yogurt balaclava melbourne

Their add-ons bar has a huge variety of fresh fruits, cookies, chocolate, shortbread crumble, caramelized bananas, honey cashews, halva, fruit pearls, candy, stewed apples, syrups, coulis... you could make any combination you could think of. Unlike other ice-cream or frozen yogurt bars everything looked and tasted very fresh and there were no canned or packaged fruits to be seen.

That brings me to their decor: polished wood, spotlights, and an excellently simple logo create a familiar vibe that is echoed around the city at many popular cafes and some more upmarket fast food establishments. Where Yo-Chi really stands out however is their simple yet eye-catching artwork of a serene bay, beach and mountains by Gaku Nakagawa, a Japanese artist whose work has appeared in Monocle and Illustration Now, and the Yo-Chi mascot, around 8 feet high and waving his colourful spoon over his subjects, bidding them to self-serve themselves some damn yogurt. And we all obeyed, like the good Yo-Chi citizens we were.

The prices are easy - grab a tub, Small, Medium or Large, and fill up with whatever you want. Get all 8 yogurt flavours. Fill your cup with caramelized bananas. Or just chocolate syrup. Make a maple syrup soup mixed with Apple Pie froyo and lychees. They don't judge here - make your mix, plop it on the scales up the front, and pay by weight. Whatever you put it in the cup, 100 grams costs $2.80.

Have some fun with your (relatively) healthy dessert. Catch up with friends under the Yo-Chi guardian. Or join the hordes of St Kilda hipsters who rush in for a large cup of late-night Green Tea frozen yogurt. As Yo-Chi says; 'You are the creator of your own yogurt destiny'.

Yo-Chi Self Serve Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon