After walking north through Chinatown, where we watched a man shove kicking chickens into paper grocery bags, we emerged at North Beach’s strip of nudie bars and tacky Italian restaurants. Set at the axis where these two parts of the city merge is Yoogo Gelato, a delicious Asian-tinged gelateria with truly funky flavors.
Two large display cases held rows of gelato and sorbet, each bin fronted by the physical incarnation of the flavor. Here are some of my favorites: a one-ounce bottle of Bacardi for rum raisin; a cup of shell-on peanuts for peanut butter; a ginger root for ginger; a cup of coffee beans for coffee; a mini bottle of yogurt for yogurt; an upright vanilla bean for vanilla; and a spoonful of black sesame seeds for black sesame.
In front of each fruit flavor was a whole fruit, including lychee, mango, avocado and kiwi. I could keep going, but I think you probably get the idea, and I’m beginning to run out of flavors. Before I continue, check out my favorite Yoogo image, a can of Budweiser with beer ice cream.
Not wanting to order the holy trinity of hazelnut, stracciatella or chocolate, which I could probably find at any gelateria the world over, I went as exotic as possible.
Shockingly, Yoogo is even healthy. They manage to eke out more flavor from 3% butterfat than most ice creams produce using over 22%. They claim making weightier gelato results in a “more intense, richer, and creamier taste.” After tasting their product, I had no doubt. Yoogo’s sorbets go one step further; they’re fat free, and all use real fruit. So if you’re a health nut, or just a little nutty, the perception that gelato is bad for you won’t fly.
Yoogo cost a little more than most gelato, but the scoops were large and the flavors much more distinctive, exotic, and scrumptious than at most gelaterias. So the next time you’re in San Francisco, buy a live hen, grab some gelato from Yoogo, and take in a strip tease. You won’t be disappointed.