Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Finding ‘Fro-yo' in the Fillmore

Awhile back, I got so caught up reading about the Pinkberry craze in Los Angeles that I considered booking a ticket south for a day just to try one of its frozen yogurt. Yes, I am just that crazy about new food.

Luckily, my brain (and pocketbook) got the better of me and I nixed the LA trip. But the nice thing about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is that food trends eventually find their way here.

Now, I still haven’t spotted a Pinkberry (although there’s rumor of one planned for Silicon Valley), but several frozen yogurt shops are trying to stake an early claim on the frozen yogurt (or “fro-yo” as EaterSF pegged it) wars.

One of the early entrants is Jubili on Fillmore just south of Geary Boulevard and a few yards from Starbucks. This gleaming new shrine to yogurt (and cereal) opened last month and benefits from the old and new Fillmore.The old Fillmore has a strong concentration of Korean immigrants and Korean-Americans. (The latest fro-yo craze has been credited to the popularity of the tart frozen yogurt from Korea. Pinkberry’s founders are Korean-Americans and a large Korean chain known as Red Mango has opened a U.S. counterpart.) The new Fillmore is this huge building known as the Fillmore Heritage Center, which will feature several notable food spots such as a large Yoshi’s and the new 1300 restaurant.

So smart positioning from the people behind Jubili.

Jubili serves three types of frozen yogurt flavors: original, peach and strawberry sorbet. And they serve it in interestingly named sizes: “mi,” “my” and “mo.” (I guess they wanted to create their on vente vocabulary.) With your yogurt, you can top them with a variety of fresh ingredients such as raspberries, strawberries or mango.

When I visited on a recent Saturday afternoon, I decided to try a “my” (medium) sized peach-flavor yogurt with fresh mango toppings. I paid close to $4 for this nice-sized cup of yogurt.

The peach flavor had a slight tang to it with a subtle nectarine flavor instead of peach. I know, you’re thinking how can I tell? I just can. It was more nectarine than peach. (To me, peach as a more subtle flavor while nectarines hit you hard with sweet flavor.)

The fresh mango bits made my cup of yogurt prettier but the mango wasn’t fully ripen, so it didn’t add anything to my yogurt-eating experience.

The Jubili location is contemporary and clean, very Swedish or Danish in design sense. It wasn’t very crowded when I was there, just one other family enjoying their yogurt and another one coming in as I left.

It’s kind of hard to figure out frozen yogurt. Is it trying to be gelato or is it more a healthy snack? Yogurt is generally considered healthier for you because of the live cultures in it, but there’s been some debate on whether these Korean-inspired frozen yogurt (often made from powder) can make the same yogurt claims.

My most favorite frozen yogurt was found in Hawaii at yogurt stand at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. I forgot their name, but they had this wonderful original flavor yogurt that wasn’t very tart. And I’d top them with fresh cut strawberries that was just heaven. Unfortunately, the big mainland chain known as TCBY invaded the islands and this frozen yogurt shop closed down.

Anywho, my memories of frozen yogurt in Hawaii is my standard for good frozen yogurt. So how does Jubili stand up to that? Not really there because it’s a bit more tart than I’d like, but I like its creaminess. It’s an enjoyable treat when I’m in the neighborhood.

Jubili Frozen Yogurt and Cereal, 1515 Fillmore St. Open Mon.–Wed., 7 a.m.–10 p.m.; Thu.–Fri., 7 a.m.–11 p.m.; and Sat. and Sun., 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Web site.

7 comments:

SteamyKitchen said...

I actually like the tang. Have you ever drank the little tiny yogurt drink found in Chinese supermarkets - the plastic bottles are about 3" tall and come in a 5 pack. I forgot the name of them...anyways, I think Pinkberry tastes like that.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

It has been forever since I have seen a frozen yogurt place! I like the tang of yogurt which seems to be missing in many of the ones I have had in the past. Sounds really good right now.

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

Chef Ben said...

Steamy, I haven't tried those drinks. Between you and me, I think a lot of those Chinese made drinks are too sweet! I am craving the green tea yogurt from Pinkberry. That's one flavor I wished Jubili offers.

Hey Queen, thanks for the add on the blogroll. It's nice to be part of a community. Are you like the Queen bee? (I just saw The Bee Movie this weekend.) :)

Anonymous said...

There's a Pinkberry knockoff in Berkeley that opened a few months ago: Papamingo's. It's next to Rasputin's records on Channing. They have 3 everyday flavors plus a rotating special flavor (blueberry, strawberry, or peach so far). The everyday flavors are the original, green tea, and pomegranate.

The pomegranate must be tried. It's wonderfully tart, not too sweet, and still distinctly Asian-tasting like the original flavor.

Chef Ben said...

Cool, thanks for the tip about Papamingo's. That pomegranate sounds intriquing, and can't wait to get my hands on the green tea!

laurafrofro said...

Don't forget The Yogurt Bar, on Octavia just off Union. I'm usually there at least twice a week!

Anonymous said...

If you haven't tried froyo before, I would try Jubili before venturing any other place in the bay area. They have it going with the texture/tang/consistency that reminds me of my first froyo experience in LA! Yogurt Bar has a lot less tart and is more like greek yogurt.