By RACHELL CHON
There’s no doubt that ice cream is a trendy dessert. There is nothing like seeing all the flavors behind the glass display at an ice cream shop and seriously annoying the employee while you constantly ask for samples; you have a right to be picky. If you’re going to spend the same amount as a pint of ice cream at a grocery store for a petite cup of the creamy goodness, you better get the flavor your soul craves — needs.
Having to choose the right place to get that insta-worthy, foodie photo with a sensationally-good ice cream is a hard endeavor, but–
#foodfam has got your back.
We asked six ice cream shops to give us their most popular flavor/cone combo and critiqued it on its consistency, flavor, presentation, and most importantly, overall “trend-worth”. To prevent any bias towards flavors, we had the employees choose the most popular combo for us.
6. Bon Epi (University Town Center)
Bon Epi is known for their macarons, fancy Asian cakes and sweet breads. What many customers don’t know is that they also have a small selection of organic ice cream with a variety of flavors from Vietnamese Coffee to Thai Tea. Every ice cream you order automatically comes with a macaron on top.
Given Flavor: Thai Tea.
Flavor Rating: 5/10. If you dig sweeter ice cream flavors, Bon Epi is your go-to. This ice cream made Snow Monster’s macaroon sandwich taste like just ice compared to its hefty load of sugar. The flavor is also super strong, which may excite Thai-tea lovers, but was a little overpowering for our tastebuds.
Consistency: Creamy. The consistency is great. It’s soft, but also has that needed ice cream stiffness for a good bite.
Presentation: 7/10. The macaron was adorably paired with the accurate color of Thai tea. But we were disappointed with the cookie itself. The yellow “macaron” was definitely an imposter of the real-deal. It was super hard and crunchy, two things any macaron shouldn’t be.
Trendy?: 4/10. Not many people talk about its ice cream, but their interior displays are cute and there is less crowding compared to the other stores within UTC.
Would #foodfam buy again? 0 out 6 members would buy it again. Yikes.
5. Strickland’s (Culver Plaza)
Because of its convenient location, the majority of the UHS student population has visited this small joint to get ice cream at some point. With about four flavors to choose from, Strickland’s alternates them throughout the month. They offer both milkshakes and ice cream, both made fresh daily.
Given Flavor: Matcha
Flavor Rating: 6/10: It tasted like a blended matcha drink in ice-cream form. Nothing wildly different.
Consistency: Soft-serve texture. It did not reach the thick, air-like consistency of ice cream and was more like frozen yogurt.
Presentation: 2/10. Not exactly social-media-worthy but hey, if you don’t think it is all about the looks, then you shouldn’t have a problem with the crooked swirl. I mean, the picture speaks for itself.
Trendy?: 5/10. Great place to hang with your friends during lunch, but its lack of seating and creativity limits how much it stands out.
Would #foodfam buy again? 2 out 6 members would buy it again.
4. Afters (Diamond Jamboree)
Given Flavor: Cookie Monster with Milky Bun (donut).
Flavor Rating: 6/10. This flavor was not extremely special. It tasted like cookies and cream ice cream with an extreme amount of blue food coloring. By the time we were finished with it, all of our teeth were stained blue. However, the large chunks of Oreo pieces was a positive and it helped that it wasn’t very sweet. The donut was also plain; again, not that different from your average glazed pastry.
Not an overachiever, but it was alright overall.
Consistency: The ice cream wasn’t thick and turned runny inside the bun. It lacked the creamy yet firm consistency of a good scoop and was a huge mess inside the its donut shell.
Presentation: 5/10. Again, not exceptional. The ice cream remained pretty hidden inside the huge bun. Maybe zest it up with some toppings for a good picture?
Trendy?: 6/10. It is a good amatuer spot. Everyone raves about Afters, but there are definitely better places to explore your dessert experience and satisfy your ice cream craving.
Would #foodfam buy again? 1 out 6 members would buy it again.
3. Snow Monster (University Town Center)
This trendy place is located right inside University Town Center, close to Bon Epi. It is famed for its artsy boba drinks, adorable macarons, and high-quality lighting for foodie pictures.
Given Flavor: Colombian Coffee and Oreo with Oreo macaron Price: $4.59
Flavor Rating: 7/10. The ice cream itself was not overly sweet and pairs perfectly with the macaron. (If we were rating macarons, Snow Monster takes the prize-no question). The Oreo flavor was not as strong as we had hoped, but the large size compensated for that. .
Consistency: We are not sure why, but the ice cream itself was icy and tasted a little watered-down. It didn’t have the thick body of a good scoop of ice cream.
Presentation: 10/10. The macaron sandwich is a definite must when you order ice cream here. Without it, both the ice cream and the “foodie” picture would be lacking ice-cream integrity.
Trendy?: 8/10. Snow Monster is all over social media. Don’t miss out on one of the places both high school and college students craze about in Irvine. Its classic logo will definitely give you some attention.
Would #foodfam buy again? 4 out 6 members would buy it again.
2. Churned (Union Market)
Churned is located within one of the trendiest buildings in the Tustin/Irvine area. Each flavor is consistently spun to give a creamy and fresh texture. The variety of flavors they offer is endless, with both sorbet and ice cream available. They are also very generous with samples (which is a definite plus).
Given Flavor: Oreo paired with croissant plus a topping of Oreos, chocolate sauce, almonds, and marshmallows
Flavor Rating: 9/10. The croissant was soft and flaky on the inside and was perfect paired with the ice cream. The crunchy outside offset all the toppings and balanced everything out. Even though some of us liked the croissant better than the ice cream, the Oreo flavor was consistent throughout every bite and was pretty solid on its taste.
Consistency: The ice cream was exactly as we expected it to be, creamy and fresh. Having it constantly spun definitely helps gratify the need for a satisfying bite of thick ice cream.
Presentation: 10/10. The employees here are great at making your ice cream look both pleasing and photo-worthy, especially if you order it with the croissant option.
Trendy?: 10/10. This place has a vibe like no other ice cream place with its modern set up and location within Union Market. The busy spot has a lot of open seating and is great for photo-ops and perfect for showcasing the next best “foodie” spots. The second you walk into this place, you automatically become trendier.
Would #foodfam buy again? 6 out 6 members would buy it again.
1. The Cauldron (Costa Mesa)
This place is insane. Do not miss it for the world. The ice cream is made in a completely different way. By using liquid nitrogen, The Cauldron creates an ice cream texture that’s fresh in a sort-of artificial way but it is completely worth it. Starting the trend with the all-new puffle cone, the Cauldron combines their own unique flavors with this crazy invention to hold your ice cream in a beautiful and tasty way.
Given Flavor: Earl Grey with Puffle Cone
Flavor Rating: 10/10. Earl Grey is becoming a popular ice cream flavor that is a little more out of the box. The infamous purple-tint is paired with a floral taste and lavender scent that tastes fresh in your mouth. It is not too sweet and goes perfectly with a drizzle of honey.
Consistency: Perfect. It’s everything ice cream should be-or at least try to be.
Presentation: 15/10. Toppings and add-ons already come with most of the flavors and is paired with a scoop that is formed in the best way possible-a rose. Guys, they literally shape a flower out of your freshly-freezed ice cream…a post on social media is a no-brainer.
Trendy?: 10/10. Every person that knows about this place is doing well in the “foodie” realm of SoCal. One visit will easily make you a regular.
Would #foodfam buy again? 6 out 6 members would buy it again.
There are endless amounts of ice cream shops in and near Irvine; so don’t be afraid to try new places and order a curveball flavor every once in awhile. You might not know what you’re missing out on.
#Foodfam checking out until next time with another foodie endeavor.