Yogur Story / Yeah, we need another yogurt place like we need another frackin’ food truck. But it’s true. We’ve found and lost quite a few self-serve fro-yo joints lately so if another one’s opening up, its cold, mushy goodness better be bold and memorable. Against all odds, the bizarrely named Yogur Story brings a whole lot of new to the table. And the yogurt’s pretty good too.
Walking into Yogur Story for the first time is awe-inspiring. Apparently there are tons of places like this in Korea (presumably South Korea), but for a local who’s never been to that country, the two-story restaurant is downright impressive. The colors are clean and tasteful Pier 1 off whites. No tacky pictures of giant fruit on the walls or child-friendly, pediatrician’s office clown designs here. A giant fake tree “growing” out of a family-style picnic table dominates the first floor and there’s even outside seating for a lovely view of the parking valets working both this establishment and Sorabol next door. (Yes, there is free valet parking.)
Two staircases lead to the second floor where one can get a closer look at the giant lamp shades hanging from the ceiling. TV is projected onto the large white wall above the entrance and on any given night the programming could be ESPN or K-dramas. The tables are smaller upstairs and with the free Wi-Fi, it’s the great new hangout for students with backpacks of books and laptops. (Look out, Ward Starbucks. You got competition.)
The surprising and appealing decorating sensibility extends to the upstairs bathroom as well. It’s a clean one-toilet affair but what really adds a bit of color to the room is a large black-and-white framed photo of a bearded man making an “o” face. The picture is positioned in such a way that he is looking down at the toilet. Therefore, if you are sitting there and…evacuating…he is essentially staring down at you with an expression of shock. Somebody at Yogur Story has got an awesome sense of humor.
The yogurt itself does the job nicely and is very subtle, not too overpoweringly sweet like some of the island’s more popular fro-yo places. For a place named Yogur Story, there are, surprisingly, few flavors of yogurt. (Only seven.) Labeled above the self-serve nozzles, each flavor ends with the word “story,” ie. “Chocolate Story,” “Plain Story,” “Lychee Story,” etc. While this writer is a plain ole strawberry kind of guy, the adventurous or non-sweet-minded will enjoy the Jasmine-Green Tea Story, Taro Story and Honeydew Story. (Note: The flavors rotate so those named may not be there on your visit.)
The game changer, though, is the condiment bar. Instead of having each dish of toppings out in the open, they are all contained in two stainless steel, refrigerated vats behind a sliding door. Yes, no longer is everything out in the open for bugs, stray hairs and coughing kids to de-sanitize. It is a hypochondriac’s dessert dream.
The condiments themselves are a refreshing offshoot on the candy garnishes coming out of Asia lately. Flavored, round, ikura-like poppers and jellies sliced into tiny rectangles are available in addition to the usual mochis, fruits, gummy worms and drizzles.
Adding yet another tale to Yogur Story is its brunch service, all day until 8pm. Omelets, sandwiches, salads and waffles are available, although, these offerings are the most ordinary part of such a new dining experience. It’s not that the brunch dishes are bad. It’s just that they’re OK.
For something called the Fat Pig Fried Rice ($9.50), one expects it to be nastier and more unhealthy, especially since it contains bacon, ham and pork adobo. It was rather rice-heavy and if anything, Tabasco needed to be added to it. The Eggs La Jolla ($9.95), is a toasted bolillo bread boat filled with herbed potatoes, spinach, cream sauce and asparagus with a choice of smoked bacon, ham, chicken breast, beef or all vegetables. Even with the bacon, it was also somewhat basic in taste.
Frou frou coffee drinks are served, and they are a bit too frou frou. The Tuxedo Mocha ($4.35) is basically a white chocolate latte and those without a sweet-tooth may want to avoid it and settle for a regular cup of joe. The same went for the Chocolate Macadamia Nut ($4.50).
The service upstairs can be a bit spotty depending on the crowds, though admittedly, it’s probably a pain in the ass to walk up and down those stairs all day and night. Still, the wait staff is friendly and welcoming enough, which is the main thing since the establishment is perfect for sticking around and chatting or study hall-ing. Grown-ups will want to spoon some yogurt, sip a coffee and discuss The King’s Speech.
This is what makes Yogur Story so appealing. It makes you want to hang out and tell each other…stories.