More often than not, we all get that hankering for some good ice cream during the summer season. We’ve tried Baskin Robins and Ben and Jerry’s, but where can you find some good brown rice green tea ice cream?
There’s a small ice cream parlor called Scoops on Heliotrope in Los Angeles that brews up a wonderland of ice cream every morning. Tai Kim is the mastermind behind the unique ice cream with funky flavors people can’t seem to get enough of. Korean Beacon got a chance to talk to Tai about what makes his ice cream so spectacular.
What is it that do you do?
Well, I’m the owner of an ice cream parlor. Everyday I review the sales from the day before as well as customer suggestions for flavors and I make the ice cream and start preparing for the next day. I try to educate people through ice cream because there are so many flavors that a lot of people hesitate to try or find way too expensive. To me, ice cream is the perfect way to approach people and teach them about the flavors.
When and how did you start-up Scoops?
You know, I studied at Cal Arts and was in the art department, so you can do pretty much anything you want in the name of art. I started as a painter and then I tried to do something different, so I started doing a kitchen project. I started selling food and the project turned out to be a way to get people educated in certain issues like Korean-American identity and other special issues, which led me to think that food might be an appropriate new medium.
I converted the project into a Korean restaurant/karaoke bar and noticed that when people get together and karaoke, everyone has a good time. So that became what I was really interested in. At the time, I had no culinary training, so I decided to get more skills and go to a culinary school. After teaching at Western culinary, I quit in 2003 and decided ice cream was what I wanted to do. When opening the store, I was kind of on my own and went through it not knowing anything.
Where do you find the inspiration for some of your flavors?
Customers suggest flavors, and sometimes it’s something that pops into my mind. I get an idea at night and the next day I make them. Some take a few days—like tea flavors take a couple days to infuse and make. The Korean flavors come from my background and some of the foods I make. I’ve done Makgeoli (Korean rice wine), I tried kimchi, but it didn’t sell too well. Neither did red bean, but Nuromji (roasted rice) was pretty popular.
Any favorite flavors?
Lately, salty chocolate. I’ve found salty goes really well with things like vanilla but people go like ‘What? Salt?’ because they expect a sweet treat, but when they see ‘salt’ they pause. South Eastern flavors also because not many people know about those flavors especially when it come to all the different tropical fruits. People still don’t know what durian, jack fruit, or lychee is.
What’s in the future for you?
Lots of people ask about expansion, but I have a limited capacity so I’m not able to expand. Id like to do at least a little bit more because people say they have to drive from far, far away. To me, less is better than more though.
712 N Heliotrope Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90029
[Photos: Audrey Yun-Suong]