In the past five years, HelMel ice cream wizard Tai Kim has built a tidal wave of good will through word of mouth at Scoops, his popular shop behind LA City College. Now food blogger Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang is expanding the concept to Palms, where he plans to open Scoops Westside in the next 3-6 months, depending on permitting and build-out.
Kang has frequented Scoops since his days as a USC undergrad. He’d study there at least three days per week on his commute home to Eagle Rock. “[Tai] started talking to me about how he approaches ice cream, which is flavor driven and handmade,” says Kang. “He’s like, ‘I want people to experience flavor combinations that maybe they’d only see in fine dining settings or far-flung countries.’” Kang regularly explored flavor combinations with Kim, both at Scoops and on eating excursions. He introduced Kang to ingredients like pandan leaf and dragon fruit. “He was kind of like a mentor to me about understanding flavor,” says Kang.
Kang worked in finance after graduating from USC and started seriously thinking about getting into food service eight months ago, after returning from an around-the-world sojourn. He ended up partnering with Jeff Leung, who he knew from USC, and his brother Justin Leung.
“The value of Scoops is not only a unique product, but also the customer experience,” says Kang. “It’s about how anybody can come in and experience flavors they’d never experienced before…I think the coolest thing about Scoops is that regulars come in and they don’t even have to ask for samples. They just point, because there’s an understanding as a customer that it’s almost like a ride-along…You don’t come in to try the vanilla, the strawberry or chocolate. You come in to try the Guinness chocolate or strawberry balsamic.”
“This is 100% me in terms of concept and execution,” says Kang. Kim will make and supply the ice cream, but Kang will choose flavors daily, accounting for his preferences and what he thinks his customers will like. He’ll offer 14 flavors of ice cream and sorbet per day (some non-dairy), which will be available by the cup, cone or take-home pint. Scoops Westside will serve shakes and he’s considering old-fashioned options like banana splits and sundaes with hot fudge. Ice cream sandwiches might appear in the future, if Kang finds a complementary cookie supplier.
In terms of design, expect some similarities to the HelMel original, including a flavor to suggest board and gallery space for local artists. The space isn’t large, but you’ll find seating both indoor and out. Music will also play a larger role than at the original.
Kang plans to feature a full pourover coffee program, fueled by Intelligentsia. “I’ve had coffee from all over the country, many different producers, and they’re the best, without a doubt,” says Kang. He plans to select the coffees every couple weeks, depending on “whatever Intelligentsia has in season or that’s freshest.” Coffee will be available by the cup, but don’t look for espresso (or affogato).
Kang decided on the location because it’s freeway friendly and an “up and coming food neighborhood” with options like Rio Brazil Café, Chego and Simpang Asia.
Kang said his goal with Scoops Westside is “to be part of the community… There are something like 10 schools, elementary to high school, within a couple mile radius of that location. I want to be a place where families and kids can come and enjoy good ice cream, and at the same time, be accessible to people to know Scoops now and not have to drive up to East Hollywood.” He also wants to provide a location for people in the restaurant and food service industry – “especially bloggers and food media” – to have a place to congregate, write and exchange ideas. Yes, Scoops Westside will have free Wi-Fi.
Another difference from the original Scoops is that Kang has social media savvy. “[Tai] believes in word of mouth. He believes in slowly building up a customer base, which is fitting with his personality,” says Kang. “For me, I like to reach out to people with Twitter and social media. People want to feel connected to something instantly, which is what social media lets you do.” Given that, he’s already launched a Scoops Westside Twitter feed @ScoopsWestside.
Kang hopes to have more than one location, but he made it clear that, “I have no idea what those locations might be, and if I do expand, it would be at a rate where not I’m comfortable, but Tai would be comfortable with production levels. If we do expand, it will be steady and sustainable.”
Kang will be serving Scoops at the LA Street Food Fest on July 24. Track updates to Scoops Westside on Twitter @ScoopsWestside.
Caroline on Crack | Westward, Ho! Eastside Eateries Opening up Westside Locations
October 13, 2010 at 12:38 PM
[…] Scoops Westside (Early Fall 2010): Matthew “Mattaouille” Kang has taken it upon himself to open up the Westside branch of this much loved ice cream shop. Fortunately for me (but not for my waistline), it’ll be a stone’s throw from my new apartment. He’ll offer up Tai Kim’s exotic flavors as well as have dedicated ice cream cups for regulars. He got me a huge cocktail glass. Hee! This Scoops will also have free WiFi and an Intelligentsia coffee program. Affogato, anyone? […]
June 30, 2010 at 3:54 AM
Josh – An enlightening and well-written post!
Matt – Looking forward to it!
June 30, 2010 at 9:36 AM
Thanks for the feedback. Glad you like the post. See you at Scoops Westside for some scoops (and pourover coffee).
June 24, 2010 at 12:55 PM
Andrea – definitely looking forward to seeing you once we open!
Carter – Agree that it’s a great location, I wouldn’t have gone for it unless you gave the thumbs up, which you did.
Yolanda – get yourself back to LA soon so we you can try some ice cream
Aaron – hope you come back to LA soon too.
June 24, 2010 at 12:52 PM
Lori Lynn, Thanks so much for the kind words. Please do stop by once we open. I haven’t seen you since last November!
June 24, 2010 at 12:51 PM
I’ve tried kopi luwak coffee both here and in Indonesia, where it’s from. It’s cool in theory but flavor-wise not worth the cost at all. I will definitely have some unique flavors since I’ll be choosing.
June 24, 2010 at 7:32 AM
Great piece Josh. And YAY for Matt! Best wishes for a super-successful business. Sounds like a great idea. Can’t wait to stop by.
June 24, 2010 at 8:31 AM
Lori Lynn, thanks for the YAY. See you at Scoops Westside.
June 24, 2010 at 1:08 AM
I look forward to the promise of some decent offbeat choices at Scoops Westside. Since coffee will be featured prominently, maybe kopi luwak ice cream is in order…
June 24, 2010 at 8:30 AM
Val, with Matthew using Intelligentsia, he probably won’t have kopi luwak, since the company doesn’t source those beans, but if he does, that would be a seriously expensive scoop.
June 23, 2010 at 4:43 PM
Great location in an up-and-coming neighborhood.
Best of everything, and I will be there on opening day.
June 23, 2010 at 2:32 PM
Thanks for writing a terrific piece reflecting my story, Josh. Since you didn’t get the journalistic first “scoop”, hopefully you will get the literally first one.
June 23, 2010 at 3:54 PM
Congratulations on signing the lease on Scoops Westside, and on all the support you’re receiving from the community. The literal first scoop is the one I care about.
June 23, 2010 at 11:08 AM
Congrats matt. Can’t wait to come back and get some
Tweets that mention Food GPS » Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang Launching Scoops Westside -- Topsy.com
June 23, 2010 at 10:53 AM
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by davidhochman, Alissa Walker, Jo, Jo, Matthew and others. Matthew said: the official word, from Josh Lurie of @foodgps Matthew “@Mattatouille” Kang Launching @ScoopsWestside http://su.pr/1MmrCv […]
June 23, 2010 at 10:32 AM
Congratulations, Matt! I look forward to stopping by
June 23, 2010 at 10:30 AM
Just started following @ScoopsWestside. Excited to watch this developing. Good luck Matt!