Frozen yogurt was a trendy snack in the 1980s, then melted away. But just as neon colors, jelly sandals and tight jeans have made their comeback, so has fro-yo.
After immersing ourselves in Honolulu’s frozen-yogurt scene, we found that there are two schools of thought when it comes to the confection: There’s the tart, focused-on-health yogurt, usually served by a counterperson, and there’s the DIY, pile-on-the-toppings, sweeter style. Which yogurt shop is right for you? Here’s a handy cheat-sheet with some of the options:
At 1102 Fort Street Mall, Yogen Früz has a white, vaguely futuristic décor. Its strength is a tart, refreshing and creamy yogurt. If you like the zing of unflavored yogurt, you’ll like this flavor; if you’re more of an ice cream fan, this may not be your scene. You can get frozen fruit blended into your yogurt here, but the result is crunchy. Stick to the original and have fruit put on top instead. Pluses include friendly, pretty counter staff and no line to wait in. Cons? Limited selection of yogurt flavors and the menu is a bit confusing. There are seven Yogen Früz stores planned for Hawaii; at least five will be on Oahu.
Billing itself as ecofriendly, Tropic Rush Frozen Yogurt Café has biodegradablle cups. We chose from the day’s menu—which had 11 nonfat flavors, two no-sugar flavors and two low-fat flavors—and decided on Belgian chocolate and mango/lychee. This is a self-serve place, with sweet, non-watery yogurt. The flavors tasted quite realistic, and we also were happy to see a hard-to-find classic: pistachio. Market City Shopping Center, 2919 Kapiolani Blvd.
Menchie’s has three locations on Oahu (Kapolei, Mililani and Ward Warehouse). This is a self-serve, sold-by-weight-style operation. The toppings here include the best chocolate-chip cookie dough nuggets, not too sticky, and unusual toppings that we didn’t see at other fro-yo shops, such as chopped red-velvet cake bits, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds and hot marshmallow topping. Menchie’s is usually filled with families (kids love that chalkboard to doodle on), and quite busy. On the con side? It can be hard to find a place to sit, and with so many tempting toppings, it’s easy to get carried away and wind up with an $8 snack.
At Kahala Mall and in the Waikiki Beach Walk (opposite Yard House), Red Mango offers nonfat, all-natural frozen yogurt with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. We tried the original flavor, which boasts a robust early tang that mellows into a more neutral, barely sweet taste. This company markets the fact that it has a patented strain of probiotic bacteria, which reportedly boosts digestive health and the immune system. If you’re not into frozen yogurt, try the line of iced teas that have been “boosted” with a probiotic powder. Local entrepreneur Alex Choi has plans for seven Red Mango stores in Hawaii.
Orange Tree locations are in Aiea, Kaneohe and Kapolei, with more slated for Ala Moana Center, Waipahu and Ewa Town Center (visit www.orangetreehawaii.com for details.). It has 20 flavors of yogurt, with 14 to 16 on rotation daily. It’s self-serve, and for toppings? Try the mochi, of course.