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Yoku Yoku - Froyo & Gelato (Westside Village)

tatertots Jan 20, 2007 09:55 AM

Sad when my local Penguins (Palms & Sepulveda) became a "Pinkberry Casualty." This location has been replaced with a new dessert place called Yoku Yoku.

Serves frozen yogurt and gelato. Yogurt flavors are simple: Italian (tart), chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla. As well as gelato, smoothies, and fruit/non-fruit toppings dry toppings. Parking is convenient, decor is cute but a bit bright you may need sunglasses if you have a hangover.

I say - down with Pinkberry, support your local froyo vendor! (And yes, the owners know their sign is mispelled - "house of desert" <LOL>).

  1. n
    nosh Jan 20, 2007 03:50 PM

    If you visit this new place across from the Trader Joe's and Galaguetza (sp?) be sure to save a buck or two and sample the excellent doughnuts at Royal in the middle of the same strip mall, between the Chinese fastfood and the pizza place. Very pleasant and hardworking family operation (mostly mom) with very tasty fare, particularly the crispily fried cinnamon rolls (please don't take the last one!) and apple fritters.

    1. b
      bulavinaka Jan 20, 2007 04:12 PM

      Thanks for the posting. We go to that Trader Joe all the time, and will have to give it a go.

      Haven't been to Pinkberry yet but really don't care for the hype, the smug attitudes of the teenibops working the counters, and the whole "create a buzz by choosing a location with no parking" tactics by this chain that so many bloggers have mentioned. Also check out Deep End Dining's Oct26 article on "Punk'd Berry." This guy is not only fearless, but he writes like a Pulitzer Prize winner (and he should have one!), and he knows his food! I am not a lemming, as I hope most of our fellow bloggers aren't. Can't see what would drive someone to even consider trying them, given all the hysteria.

      I am guessing that you mention the need for sunglasses for those who may have the propensity to be hung over... not you of course! ;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: bulavinaka
        l
        LAfoodfiend Feb 16, 2007 10:22 PM

        How can you slam a place without visiting yourself and forming your own opinion? It seems like you are judging a place based on the opinions of others without even checking it out for yourself. Pinkberry was a small local enterprise that became immensely successful based on an excellent product. We should be happy to support our little guys even when they hit the big time. I'm sure all the current fans will be quick to throw Yoku under the bus the second they open their second or third location. A great neighborhood spot doesn't automatically become evil when it begins to expand into other locations. Pinkberry is still the fantastic place I fell in love with when it first opened its doors in my Weho nabe.

      2. w
        writergirl Jan 20, 2007 07:31 PM

        Isn't Penguin's a chain as well? How is supporting them any better than supporting Pinkberry's? (I've never been to Pinkberry's by the way, and actually liked Penguin's fine.) I noticed the new "desert" place but was in a rush. Thanks for the info.

        2 Replies
        1. re: writergirl
          f
          fdb Nov 8, 2007 09:32 PM

          There is only one Penguin's left in the entire "chain" which is at the corner of Westwood and Olympic. Although they keep the Penguin's name, they are an individual entity now. No more corporate control. If you like traditonal fro-yo, this is the best place to go. Exceptionally reasonable price as well! They also serve Italian sour which is comparable to PB original.

          1. re: fdb
            hrhboo Nov 8, 2007 09:33 PM

            There is a Penguin's in the Marina too.

        2. p
          peterx Jan 23, 2007 11:08 AM

          I went to Yoku Yoku this weekend. Great Italian yogurt. In addition, yogurt samples come in a mini-wafer cone. The owners seem to be working hard to make it a go.

          Also, I never like the former Penguins (I like the one on Olympic and Westwood much better). I thought it was dirty. I'm glad they cleaned it up with this bright new place.

          1. b
            bulavinaka Jan 23, 2007 09:13 PM

            Samples in a mini-wafer cone? Now that's style! Sounds like something PinkBerry would do - NOT! Will have to make a go of this place.

            1. g
              greengelato Jan 24, 2007 09:52 AM

              i've only seen the place but man, those primary colored chairs have to GO. that's probably one of the main factors preventing me from buying yogurt there, even though i live within walking distance.

              1 Reply
              1. re: greengelato
                b
                bulavinaka Jan 24, 2007 07:46 PM

                Maybe try sunglasses like tatertots mentioned... give it a try and let us know what you think!

              2. b
                bulavinaka Jan 27, 2007 07:52 PM

                Just tried Yoku Yoku and agree with Peterx above... the products are great. And as it's also been mentioned, these folks really are doing their best to make this place work.

                Yoku Yoku is located on the southeast corner of Sepulveda and Palms. They encourage you to sample as much as you want - they do offer samples of the soft-serve yogurt in little wafer cones. And the gelatos - 12 well-executed flavors - are offered via the standard gelato spoons. I tried six of the gelatos and was delighted with all of them. The Pineapple was very light and dairy free, but had a very refreshing flavor to it. The Chocolate Hazelnut tasted just as described. The Fig-Almond was very creamy and filled with small pieces of almonds and figs. Madagascar Vanilla hits your nose before you can put it in your mouth. The Espresso Chocolate is definitely for coffee lovers, as you can truly taste the espresso as if it was just brewed. And the Zabaglione was subtle but rich in flavor with a good smooth mouth feel - kind of like an eggnog in color but more subtle in flavor without the nutmeg. The flavors stand out just as their names are described, and just enough sweetness to encourage you to keep taking more spoonfuls.

                The service is very personal, polite, and prompt. Yoku Yoku also has alot of dry and wet toppings as well. The wet ingredients all looked very fresh too. I personally prefer my gelato neat, but I can easily see loading up on some of the toppings with the softserve yogurt, especially some of the fruit toppings on a hot Southern California afternoon.

                The decor, as mentioned above, is colorful - lots of coordinating pastels, with a very pleasant cherry blossom motif repeated below and above the counters. Greengelato mentioned the chairs, which may or may not be to one's liking, but I give them an "A" for effort. I can see the chairs being of a similar color and tone to the surrounding walls instead. The owners could easily pick up some coordinating Umbra Oh Chairs that are very durable, inexpensive, and easy to clean. I kept my rugrats away from the chairs here as they spill anything that is spillable. Yoku Yoku is really going above and beyond to make the place feel nice and comfortable with a kind of hip feel to it - especially for a place serving gelato and yogurt. It's definitely more of a parlor, as the place has more than enough square footage to comfortably sit and take a break. A nice seating area with a large coffee table is positioned in the corner adjacent to the storefront where you can sit and relax or read a magazine while enjoying your dessert. A flat panel big screen is neatly affixed between the menu boards as well, playing some music videos. I can't vouch for the videos as I am still in the Stone Age - no cable/satelite - so it really didn't interest me personally. The row of pendant lights above the tables is a nice touch too - I think they're Danish LeKlints, which in my book, are true classics if you like Mid-Century Modern.

                You won't find be getting punk'd at Pinkberry. I'll definitely be making regular stops at Yoku Yoku after my weekly trips to Trader Joe's right across the street, as my waistline allows.

                1. b
                  bulavinaka Jan 27, 2007 08:03 PM

                  One more thing I forgot to mention in my long-winded entry - the gelato is made with organic milk. The owners are trying to emphasize quality as much as possible.

                  1. r
                    running pig Jan 28, 2007 07:00 AM

                    Based on these recommendations, I visited Yoku Yoku yesterday after my 20-mile LA Marathon training session. Well-deserved treat! The very friendly employee offered me a sample of the Italian yogurt, which I accepted and was delighted to find that (as indicated above) it came in a little ice cream. Ditto when I asked for a sample of the vanilla. Delightful.

                    The effect of the the Italian yogurt is similar to pinkberry---natural yogurt taste. And I love PInkberry, so this was an enjoyed sensation. Also, like PInkberry, the fruit was fresh and chopped into little bits. One more similarity...the price...$6 for medium with topping.

                    What is the difference between Pinkberry and Yoku Yoku? REALLY NICE employees, parking, lots of sitting...a great atmosphere. Oh yeah, and several more flavors of both yogurt and gelato.

                    GO!

                    1. e
                      emilymm Jan 28, 2007 01:09 PM

                      Anybody know about the nutrition facts at Yoku Yoku? I didnt see any posted while I was there yesterday.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: emilymm
                        b
                        bulavinaka Jan 28, 2007 04:55 PM

                        To be honest, I didn't think about that... the people behind the counter are very receptive, and it couldn't hurt to ask, but I don't know if they have that info...

                        1. re: bulavinaka
                          e
                          emilymm Feb 19, 2007 12:29 PM

                          Finally asked about the nutrition content of the yogurt and gelato and got a very vague response. The person working would not say the calorie/grams of fat count..only said "low fat". That makes me not want to go there again if I cannot get an honest answer about what I am consuming.
                          Anyone else have info?

                          1. re: emilymm
                            r
                            running pig Feb 19, 2007 04:24 PM

                            I asked at Pinkberry and was given the same exact response...which is why I onyl treat myself to this kind of thing after some LONG running session. I don't count on it being healthy at all. Most things, if they taste THAT good....

                            1. re: running pig
                              w
                              writergirl Feb 19, 2007 05:52 PM

                              I agree, if were truly lowfat or low-cal they'd be trumpeting that, instead of giving vague answers. If you're genuinely concerned, I'd skip it if I were you, or only eat there occasionally.

                            2. re: emilymm
                              hrhboo Mar 4, 2007 03:50 PM

                              For Running Pig, Pinkberry now posts nutritional info in the store. 25 cals per oz but I'm not sure of the fat content. Suspiciously low...I'm not sure I believe it.

                          2. re: emilymm
                            f
                            fdb Nov 8, 2007 09:25 PM

                            I asked the owner once, and he told me he uses the same yogurt power (imported from Italy). Only difference is PB mixes it with water, Yoku mixes with low fat (or non fat??) milk which explains the creamier texture. I heard that he used to work at PB.

                          3. r
                            running pig Jan 29, 2007 05:09 AM

                            Yes, feel free to ask...I heard one employee who I think was a manager telling a customer that a particular gelato was flavored with Splenda....so they will probably answer your questions.

                            1. j
                              jiwonhan Feb 1, 2007 12:27 PM

                              I saw this bright light with lot’s of people on the corner of Palms and Sepulveda. First I was thinking “A new club on the corner? Here around this area? What is this place? “ I had to make a quick stop to see what all this was. I pulled in and the sign said Yoku Yoku. As I entered the Yoku Yoku I was so amazed by the shape and size of this place, I felt like I was at some airport. I felt very clean and comfortable right away. The music was right and the light was great. Next I was asked by this girl (She looked really Hot!) to see if I wanted some sample of some Yogurt and gelato. I couldn’t say no. I tried couple of flavors and “Wow!” I was really surprised by the way this tasted. I had to have some more! They let me try as much as I want until I put my order in. I went with size M Italian yogurt with three toppings. For topping I went with all fresh fruits. I must have been in the store for about 30 min, for some Yogurt! The price is very reasonable and it’s a very hip trendy place to hang out. I suggest who ever lives around this area to try to make a visit to the “YOKU YOKU. “ Corner of Pamls and Sepulveda.

                              1. y
                                ygtamore Feb 3, 2007 11:41 PM

                                Way better than Pinkberry and Fiore, sweet and organic just the way I like it!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ygtamore
                                  g
                                  greengelato Feb 7, 2007 12:19 AM

                                  hmm. this and jiwonhan's comment seems a bit suspicious given that this is their only post on chowhound.

                                  my friend and i tried yoku yoku and we found it to be inferior to pinkberry- it didn't have that "crunch" texture that only pinkberry is able to produce. yoku yoku is also more expensive than pinkberry- a medium with 3 toppings will set you at $6. i do, however, think it's a much more comfortable place to hang out, with ample seating and parking.

                                  well, if a yoku yoku person is indeed reading this, please do something about your decor! the five different design concepts clashes together and is jarring to the eyes. at the very least, please change the chairs (perhaps to white or even a matching pastel) and remove the dried flowers wrapped in cellophane.

                                2. b
                                  bulavinaka Feb 4, 2007 09:23 PM

                                  The owner is a relatively young guy who is driven to succeed - that was my impression when I talked with him. He is very open to customer comments and is always looking to improve his shop, so chime in - good or bad - and I am sure he will appreciate it... I hope he is successful as, IMHO, this place has really good product, service and atmosphere. So far, it seems to be a great place that you can actually feel welcome to try the goods, then sit down and relax and enjoy one of life's simple pleasures.

                                  1. o
                                    Ogawak Feb 5, 2007 07:09 AM

                                    I went to Yoku Yoku this weekend based on these recommendations. I was very happy with it. I like Pinkberry, and the Italian Yogurt was just like it. Plus for the traditional frozen yogurt fans, they had vanilla, etc. And the portions were very generous. And there's parking. As much as I like Pinkberry, Yoku Yoku is a better alternative, especially since my girlfriend likes traditional froyo over the Pinkberry. Thanks for the heads up.

                                    1. r
                                      rameniac Feb 7, 2007 02:23 AM

                                      not a bad place at all. the yogurt is a bit TOO creamy for my tastes (while pinkberry is occasionally too light, depending on the location) but it's a step in the right direction and i'll definitely support the place. the owner explained how his mom tried to get him to name the place Appleberry or something. i was like, I'm SO GLAD you didn't listen to her!

                                      1. l
                                        luvluvluvtoeat Feb 16, 2007 08:06 PM

                                        I LOVE this place... went to Pinkberry. Was a bit underwhelmed and the staff was unfriendly. Yoku Yoku is creamier, a bit less tart, and totally delicious! I had the italian yogurt, no toppings. I think I am going to be addicted. YUM YUM YUM!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: luvluvluvtoeat
                                          b
                                          bulavinaka Feb 17, 2007 06:49 AM

                                          Long-time reader, first-time blogger? If you like smooth and creamy, try their zabaglione gelato - a true sensual pleasure...

                                        2. hrhboo Feb 16, 2007 10:15 PM

                                          I think the place is great, but the sample I tasted came in a small paper cup - no tiny cone. Nice folks, even though the place is such a blatant Pinkberry copycat right down to the lampshades. Since I shop at TJs regularly I will probably be back...until Pinkberry opens on my street (Abbot Kinney) soon. I prefer the tartness of Pinkberry but I'm happy to support good folks with a good product like those at Yoku Yoku.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: hrhboo
                                            b
                                            bulavinaka Feb 17, 2007 06:59 AM

                                            Abbot Kinney - isn't that OUR street ? ;> Oh yes, before I forget - did you try either the rasberry sandwich, or the strawberry sandwich at 3 Square? If unrestrained gratification is calling you, warm it up and have it with a dollop of creme fraice - they make sublime partners...

                                            1. re: bulavinaka
                                              hrhboo Feb 17, 2007 09:09 AM

                                              Ooooh...you're dangerous. I was not aware of these sandwich options but shall make it my weekend mission to pursue this unrestrained gratification you speak of!

                                              1. re: hrhboo
                                                b
                                                bulavinaka Feb 17, 2007 07:17 PM

                                                Hrhboo - come to the dark side... (repeated heavy labored breathing - from too much 3 Square...)

                                          2. l
                                            LAfoodfiend Feb 16, 2007 10:28 PM

                                            Pinkberry IS my local froyo vendor and has been since they first opened their very first branch. I will continue to support them, along with other labor-of-love spots like Yoku Yoku. There's room in my life and wallet for all of them!

                                            1. j
                                              jinyoung Feb 28, 2007 07:20 PM

                                              I think yoku yoku is great and i don't think yoku yoku is pinkberry copycat. There yogurt is smooth and creamy.ummmmmmmmmm it was good. I think owner was cute.

                                              1. m
                                                melondra Mar 3, 2007 08:02 PM

                                                A resounding FABULOUS to Yoku Yoku in West L.A.! What a magnificent taste sensation our first trip was. My husband and I ordered a mango & raspberry gelato cup topped with fresh diced kiwi. The raspberry seeds added a wonderful texture to the gelato and the mango tasted like scrumptious, ripe mangos. This place is immaculate, well-lit and beautifully welcoming. The people who work there, including the owner, are incredibly kind and more than generous with the samples and flavor recommendations. We will now be regulars at what we hope will be our neighborhood, date-night favorite for many years to come.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: melondra
                                                  w
                                                  writergirl Mar 4, 2007 07:46 AM

                                                  "Incredibly kind..." wow, what the heck were they doing? Honestly, I went there, and it was teenagers working at a yogurt shop. They served me yogurt and said thank you. The end. The one time I went to Pinkberry, the teenagers working there served me yogurt, and said thank you, the end. I've never had especially bad, or especially good, service at a yogurt/ice cream shop. Unless you count those poor kids forced to sing for their tips at Cold Stone.

                                                  1. re: writergirl
                                                    b
                                                    bulavinaka Mar 4, 2007 10:23 AM

                                                    I can't speak for Melondra, but when we go, it's usually the family of four... we've always found the staff to be very endearing to us and our kids. We've seen the staff treat other customers this way as well. They've always been helpful with suggestions for flavors, and been receptive to requests and suggestions. Many times we've noticed 8-10 year-olds milking the staff for tastes of just about everything behind the counter, and the staff patiently accomodates them which, for "teenagers," is quite a test of patience in our eyes. I know we're not talking Micheliin ratings here, but issues regarding customer service (among other issues) have appeared concerning the current 800lb gorilla in this category. So when one goes to a local froyo/gelato place, it's refreshing not only to receive great product, but relatively great service as well.

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                                      hrhboo Mar 4, 2007 11:10 AM

                                                      I agree, the people at Yoku are very nice. Not having any cash on me, I used my credit card to pay and there wasn't anywhere on the slip to add a tip. I felt so bad about it but they still went out of their way to give me lots of tastes even once they knew I wasn't able to tip. I went back a few days later and made up for it.

                                                      This week I also got excellent service at Bulavinaka's 800lb gorilla! I was buying a bunch of froyo for an Oscar party and it took a little while since they were very busy. I was happy to wait since the poor guys had a line of about a dozen customers behind me, but they insisted on giving me 2 large swirls with my choice of toppings for free. This was the relatively new branch in the Marina and I found the staff to be helpful and very accommodating.

                                                      I'll continue to support both Pinkberry and Yoku Yoku, lord knows I eat enough of that stuff to give everyone my business!

                                                      1. re: hrhboo
                                                        b
                                                        bulavinaka Mar 4, 2007 03:24 PM

                                                        That was a really nice thought! And I'm glad to hear that King Kong might actually have a heart. I think I might be thawing enough to give them another try...

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka
                                                          hrhboo Mar 4, 2007 03:48 PM

                                                          Noooooo! You can't be serious. What if you end up liking it and then I'll have no one to bicker with?

                                                          I was pleasantly surprised by that gesture and was not expecting it at all. You know, since you're a family man I don't think PB is the greatest place to take kids (I mean the Marina branch specifically). The lines are long and there's nowhere to sit and enjoy a Froyo Family Feast. I can absolutely see how Yoku Yoku is more suitable for hanging out with the family. Or you could always pick-up and picnic on the beach!

                                                          1. re: hrhboo
                                                            b
                                                            bulavinaka Mar 4, 2007 07:20 PM

                                                            I'm sure we'll find something else to bicker about...

                                                            The new PB in MDR is close enough to home and work to where I can make a grab-and-go. I would just have to pick the right time, I guess. I hear the lines have been really up-and-down here so maybe I'll be lucky enough to catch them at low-tide.

                                                            I mentioned how serious I was about liking a business if they had a good product and were good citizens of the community - I couldn't care less about being a mom&pop or a big P&G-type, just as long as they were good neighbors! :)

                                                    2. re: writergirl
                                                      v
                                                      vittus Aug 3, 2007 05:43 PM

                                                      Melondra is right. The service is very good, and the workers seem to want to be there. I too noticed this and figured the owner emphasized this attitude in training. But when I tipped and they didn't sing for me...I nearly threw my yogurt down in disgust :)

                                                  2. m
                                                    melondra Mar 6, 2007 08:06 PM

                                                    Yes, once again, incredibly kind. We just went back last night and received the same great service. We live in a town where customer no service has become the norm, so I happily give credit where credit is due.

                                                    1. c
                                                      Cinnamon Jun 10, 2007 11:57 AM

                                                      I've been to Yoku Yoku twice now for their no-sugar-added chocolate gelato and really like this place. The main guy behind the counter (maybe the owner) is super-nice and efficient.

                                                      He mentioned the gelato is handmade, I believe by someone in Silverlake (I think that's what he said) who has a gelato store there.

                                                      I also noticed as he was ringing up my order that the fruit toppings they have for their items look really fresh and yummy - halved grapes and the like, not a bunch of canned stuff.

                                                      The gelato I had was very good - not sweet, not fake-sweet, not lack-of-any taste... reminded me of superior Dutch cocoa condensed somehow into creamy dark matter.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Cinnamon
                                                        v
                                                        vittus Aug 3, 2007 05:47 PM

                                                        I think yoku yoku's vanilla flavor is really swell. So creamy and simple...but I wasn't much in to their other flavors. The decor is certainly remenisent of Pink bery. I'm not a pink-berry fan. I prefer Yoku Yoku and I recently tried Red-Mango at UCLA area which my Korean friend says is the original pink-berry in Korea. Red Mango was also very good, with a nice yogurty sour tang. Much cheaper than P.B. or Yoku Yoku. Abotu $2. Plus it's near Stan's donuts. I don't like Pink-Berry much because to me it just taste like frozen Yakult Japanese yogurt drink...which I never was a fan of.

                                                      2. n
                                                        norcalrealtor Nov 8, 2007 08:27 PM

                                                        I just want to say Im a realtor from Monterey County and when I visit my college kids in Mar Vista....I have to make a stop at YoKu YoKu.... sometimes 3 times before I leave the area, That stuff is good. I have the Italian yogurt with Kiwi, Strawberry and Mango.

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