Yogurt House

Posted on October 25, 2010

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The days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting warmer, so it’s fairly natural that I’m starting to notice the new chilled sweets bars opening up around Melbourne. The one attracting the most attention is probably the Sydney franchise Passionflower with it’s Melbourne flagship store only opening up in September this year. On the weekends, particularly at night, this place is chocka block of hip young things getting their ice cream fix. With flavours such as sticky rice, jackfruit, durian and the like, it should be no surprise that its clientele is largely of Asian descent.

On a somewhat less impressive scale is Yogurt House (within the 177-181 Hopkins Street shopfront, Footscray VIC) and its range of ‘Asian’ yogurts and toppings. I’m guessing this place is trying to get in early on the frozen yogurt (frogurt) trend in the US of A. I’d recently learnt that frozen yogurt bars are all the rage over there. Apparently the young ‘uns love hanging out in these places where you help yourself to different flavoured frozen yogurts and toppings. It even has the appeal of being healthy! It’s charged by weight, so even if you were running low on pocket money you could still hang there with your friends, just go for a smaller serve.

The westside is rarely ever a true pioneer, in the last couple of years there have been a few yogurt bars popping up around town. I’d been to Igloo Zoo to sampled their green tea and pomegranate frogurts just to name one. Anyway, back to the one in Footscray…it too charges by weight at $1.50 per 100g, so it is quite a cheap snack. The Asian spin includes frogurt flavours of green tea, taro (it’s a root vegetable, similar to a yam, but contrary to popular belief and a lot of mistranslations in bubble tea stores, it is not the same as yam), lychee, mango and coconut.

The palour is quite spacious, with a scattering of tables and seats around the place. The self serve frogurt machines are set in the back of the shop against a rather busy mosaic wall. On the left are a range of toppings (again these are self serve) from coconut jelly, rambutan, agar jellies etc. to the more conventional offerings of chocolate shavings, glace cherries, jaffas and wafers.

We went for the taro and lychee frogurts with coconut jelly, rambutans and dessicated coconut toppings. My verdict? I’m not sure it all works. I don’t mean the flavours/toppings I happened to pick, but the whole execution and even the concept they’ve gone with.

I’ll tackle execution first. Both frogurts we tried were icy (you may even be able to guess that from the photo). There was very limited creaminess to it all. I don’t know if the other flavours will be any better because a friend had warned me on the iciness. The self serving nature of the toppings bar is also a bit concerning, I’m just a little nervous about the hygiene factor, but whatever.

Moving to the concept…with its slightly tangy taste, I don’t know if yogurt lends itself to ‘Asian’ flavours and the Asian palate very well. The slightly sour taro flavour is just odd. I did adjust to the taste after the initial spoonfuls, but I can’t say I’d be rushing back for another hit. I’m just curious why they didn’t opt for just serving ice cream instead of yogurt.

Maybe Yogurt House is just ahead of it’s time or maybe I’m just too conventional, but judging by the lack of crowd and zero buzz about the place; somehow I don’t think it’ll quite take off in the way they’d hope.

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