Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Ice cream challenge: yogurt?!
Frozen yogurt isn't ice cream, this I know. It deserves an honorable mention though because it has many of the same qualities. It's cold, sweet, creamy, and social. It has the benefit of being nominally healthier, too. I subject frozen yogurt shops to one, all-important criterion: can I put my own toppings on? If the answer is "no," the place loses out. Like shabu-shabu or Korean BBQ, frozen yogurt is one of the few institutions where I enjoy the novelty of doing all the work myself and still paying full price. After that, the chief requirements are an ample selection of fruit and nuts (not just candy) and tart, mildly sweet yogurt to put them on.
Yog-Art in North Park (3026 University Avenue, 619-220-4999) fits the bill in both respects. The tart, taro-flavored yogurt has a refreshing, piquant flavor all on its own and the fruits are always in good condition. Plus, they have whole lychee, which I don't always want on my yogurt but to which I enjoy having access. After that, it's otherwise indistinguishable from other yogurt shops.
There is one thing, though....
Yeah, that's right. Yog-Art has mangoneada! During my recent mango obsession, I didn't think to check the yogurt shop for mango treats. But Yog-Art knocks it completely out of the park with their chili-mango concoction. They blend up a mango slush and then layer than it the cup with chamoy, chili, and some hunks of fresh mango for texture. It lacks the DIY, Mexican charm of the Dixie cup full of frozen fruit, but it has the elegance of preparation that seems to distinguish a really good mangoneada from the pack.
On the otherwise level playing field, Yog-Art jumps to the forefront by sheer force of mango. I wonder now: plain, tart yogurt with fruit and chamoy...?