Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tangy Yogurt Jihad

So it’s the season for cold sweet creamy stuff. But since one of us who shall remain nameless is a lactose wimp (Hint: her name rhymes with “Pleen”), ice cream is not on our summer fun list. Our newly discovered substitute is the recent national craze - tangy frozen yogurt.

Now this isn’t about ice cream. Moreover, it’s not about yogurt posing as ice cream - disguised by excessive sweetness and thickeners. No, this is about yogurt that revels in its yogurtiness - in the interplay between lactic acid and milk protein that provides that characteristic tang.

However, we have a slight logistical problem. You see, it’s roughly 241 miles from our front door to the closest Pinkberry location (Spring Street in NYC). Thus, the idea of a local source for our craving is attractive, but we’re not interested in good enough. No!! We’re looking for the best that DC area has to offer when it comes to tart froyo.

Such is the level of our dedication to science that we invested four evenings and an afternoon - to say nothing of numberless plastic spoons - in the quest for the finest. We even roped numerous friends into the effort (thanks to: SV; EW; JC; J; EN; BJ; CA; & RAmy).

Bottom Line Up Front:

TangySweet’s product is clearly the best. HOWEVER, Mr. Yogato is a straight up awesome joint.

Solution? You should get both. Seriously. Go with friends. Get a small Original to share at Tangy Sweet and then walk the five blocks over to Mr. Yogato and share a “little” of whatever flavor sounds good (with mochi!). At 125 calories per serving, you’ll walk it off in transit.


Pretty early on it was apparent that the two major players were Mr. Yogato & TangySweet. Therefore, our focus was on these dedicated joints rather than places like Sweet Green or Shilla where the tangy yogurt is a sideline.

Our methodology was simple. A tasty but light meal (pho & bun once, sushi twice, and some new-American joint the last time) followed by a visit to each vendor with a nice walk through DuPont Circle to break up the tastings.

At each place, we tried their plain tangy yogurt (that is without toppings or flavorings) along with a flavored offering.

TangySweet is all corporate cool. Slickly minimal design and efficient service. All the fun of a boarding gate. The product however, is lovely - cool and tart with a firm texture. While the “Original” is the one we initially focused on in order to assess the pure product, the flavors (we’ve had the green tea and pomegranate) actually show off how much they’ve gotten right in their mixture. The flavors don’t overwhelm. Rather the tea or fruit flavoring serves to accent the tang and taste of the baseline product. It’s an impressively subtle achievement. Really good eating and refreshing as can be on a warm night.

Mr. Yogato is a total contrast. Run by a group of friends, the place is cramped, cluttered, and covered in character. The walls hold love postings from customers and ideas for flavor/topping combinations. The staff are working the crowd and having a good time. It’s the fun of being a kid in the neighborhood ice cream shop on a hot summer night . And the product is good. Not nearly as well combined or tangy as TangySweet, but quite good. But here’s a serious note in their favor . . . they have mochi. Good mochi. Mini, soft, firm mochi. California mochi. Their tangy peach with mochi almost made us forget about TangySweet.

Note: We also liked the fact that Mr. Yogato offers creative discounts. They knock a few pennies off your purchase for singing along to favorite tunes, answering trivia questions, etc. But the biggest percentage discount (20%!!!) only comes if you’re willing to wear a Mr. Yogato stamp on your head.

Well, 20% is 20% man!


We know we need to try Iceberry, but rather than head out to Reston or Chantilly, we’ll probably wait until the new one opens in Georgetown (“coming soon!” on the corner of 30th & M). When we do, science will require we visit Sweet Green at the same time. So this probably isn’t the last you’ve heard of the Tangy Yogurt Jihad. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we’ll be bringing our racing spoons on the tangy-yogurt-trek across DuPont between TangySweet & Mr. Yogato.

41 Spring St
New York NY 10012

Mr. Yogato
1515 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

2029 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

11990 Market Street
Reston, VA 20190


Shaping the Battle Space said...

On my way to Tangy Sweet...for the 3rd time this week!

Pleen said...

I'm with you sister! Have a bite or two for me. Apparently, you can ASK for mochi topping (they keep some in the back)! Try it and see what happens!