BY EILEEN MORRIS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RACHEL SWETNAM
During LA’s Burger Week for Eater LA, for example, Kang and Kim thought it might be interesting to make a burger-themed ice cream. The result?: jalepeno-cheddar and bacon-bite ice cream. “It was basically everything but the bun and the patty in there. 95% of people said, ‘I won’t try that! But when they did, they loved it! It was delicious, it worked, and people were happy with it.”
Sometimes, the team discovers ways of working within the risk factor itself. Just this week, Kang mused over a pizza flavor and came to Kim with a pairing of tomato (combined in the past with chocolate, to much success), basil, and ricotta cheese. Kim parlayed the classic Italian pairing into a more tropical one, substituting tomato with pineapple instead. “The point”, Kang states factiously, “is for you to find which flavors harmoniously go together.”
Creating such a user-friendly experience is hardly a lucid task. The day starts the day before, to be fair, at around 1 a.m. when owner Tai Kim, the mastermind (or “mad scientist,” as Kang playfully offers) of Scoops opens up shop and begin to rifle through a pantry that holds upwards of 600 ingredients. He already has in mind what tomorrow’s flavors will be and from which flavors he will draw, molding suggestions he’s marked down on whiteboards into the next day’s sell-out. Some days, Kang will use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter to propose a mixture to the masses, but ultimately, only about one out of up to three boards will actually make the cut. Every batch of ice cream is ardently constructed from a custard base and churned quite literally through the night in only 300 modest square feet.
Vegans, those with lactose intolerance, or those who simply deem the option to be a healthier product can enjoy non-dairy soy-based selections made daily as well. To ensure quality and freshness and maintain their low-cost reputation, Scoops does not use stabilizers in their ice cream- “they’re too expensive, for one, and they’re gummy,” says Kang. They do, however, use cane sugar to enhance their flavors. Kim and his brother produce about 20-30 flavors each day, and each batch takes about 30-40 minutes to prepare. Kang, the General Manager of Scoops Westside, picks up the ice cream before he opens the doors at noon.
Scoops has been around now for almost two-and-a-half years and their motto is simple: Be clear and manage your expectations. “If you purport yourself to be all these things that you really are not, you’ll only be setting yourself up.” It’s this kind of no-nonsense self-awareness that will undoubtedly launch the company into the future comfortably. Kang sees the business expanding, most likely within the next five years, but for now, they are happy with what they get to do daily: create memories.
Kang excitedly relays a story about a couple who are avid customers that recently brought their one-and-a-half-year-old into Scoops, and how the little boy’s first ever taste of ice cream, mango black-pepper, nonetheless, was within their walls-. “The best thing about Scoops is giving people a chance to connect. That’s the best outcome and the reason and purpose for what we do. In the end, you have people and experiences, and I know our people have a good time.”
Scoops Westside, 3400 Overland Avenue Los Angeles, CA, scoopswestside.com