Ask Lourdes Limon why her raspados taste so good. She'll say, "Por que los hice con amor"?"Because they're made with love." Now that her sons have taken over the family business, they use the same secret ingredient, but they've added a few new specialties. Supplementing the shaved ice treats that give them their name are freshly squeezed juices, chili-imbued slush-drinks, and healthy fruit salads. But the raspados remain the main event. Flavors include exotic fruit such as guava, tamarind, kiwi, and jamaica, as well as more decadent flavors such as caramel, egg nog, cookies and cream, and plain water.
Blends Soft Serve Creations sets their frozen treats apart and puts the power of invention in the hands of the people by offering them the chance to blend individual flavors into their own new creation. Patrons can choose a base of ice cream or frozen yogurt or opt for a smoothie or fruit-juice freeze to sip through a straw. Next, they can infuse the treat with one or a combination of 30 available flavors, including watermelon, cinnamon spice, and peach, and top it off with candy and fruit mix-ins. Blends also lists its recommendations for tasty treats that have passed flavor-quality and brain-freeze-probability tests, including cake-batter ice cream topped with vanilla-wafer crumbles and sprinkles, and fruit punch with cherry and orange flavors, highlighted by cherry, strawberry, and raspberry mix-ins.
Devan and Reena Shah, and Tek Mehreteab are passionate about tea. By sourcing leaves from eight regions in India, China, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Japan, they are able to proffer more than 300 standard and specialty varieties online and inside Chado Tea Room. The name Chado, taken from the Chinese cha, meaning "tea," and the Japanese do, meaning "path," speaks to the owners’ strict standards for their product. Many of their green, black, white, and oolong teas are USDA-certified organic; the Shahs also stock unique varieties such as Chinese pu-er teas and hand-tied blooming tea balls. In addition, they brew special house blends for morning, afternoon, and evening, helping customers find the right blend to start the day or serve to bats that have invaded their home.
Staffers pair teas with an array of cream-topped scones, cookies, cakes, and roasted savory sandwiches during teatime at Chado's three tearooms. Though each location is decorated differently, the same three-tiered sandwich platters and steaming pots of tea travel between panda paintings hanging in the Los Angeles location, underneath strings of holiday lights at the Pasadena location, and between ceiling-high wooden shelves stocked with mugs, filters, teapots, and bags of loose-leaf tea at the Hollywood location.
The recipe for the typical crepe is simple—a bit of flour, milk, water, a few eggs, some butter, and a dash of salt. Yet, transforming that batter into the golden, paper-thin canvases found in classic Parisian cafes—and more importantly, deciding what to put inside the crepe—requires real talent. Luckily, The Crepe Kitchen‘s master chef Yafit Barades eliminates the guesswork with her menu of made-to-order dinner and dessert crepes. With a flick of her wrist, Chef Barades creates edible envelopes for her complex and globally inspired flavors—such as the Italiano, which embellishes melted mozzarella and cheddar with pesto, turkey, and fresh basil. To satisfy their sweet hankerings, guests can enjoy butter-and-sugar, cinnamon-sugar, and Nutella crepes. For a supremely indulgent treat, patrons can tuck into the Oui Oui—a crunchy and sweet collaboration of caramelized walnuts, fresh fruit, and honey that’s more satisfying than watching your ex accidentally marry a mannequin.
The last words you might think you'd hear from a baker are "easy sugar." At Sweet Dreamery Desserts, however, owner Andrea insists on putting the cake at center stage, not the frosting. Inspired by her mother, who baked authentic goodies for the family's Belizean restaurant, Andrea set out on her own baking journey at the tender age of 8, putting her two Easy-Bake ovens to work. Today, the ovens are bigger and the recipes are more refined, but there's a bit of that early passion in everything she does. Andrea and her staff bake cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops to order, creating them all from scratch in small batches to preserve the home-baked taste and the friendships struck between like-minded chocolate chips. They use no preservatives or artificial additives in the batter, just wholesome, natural ingredients such as real vanilla extract and salt-free butter.
Everything about Brian’s Shave Ice evokes the tropics: the bright mural of surfboard and palm trees on the wall, the tiki-style furniture, and syrups made of cane sugar flown in from Hawaii. The sweet sauces decorate spheres of fine snow crafted using ice shavers from Japan. Their flavors have included watermelon, mocha frappe, and a strawberries-and-cream flavor with strawberry syrup that’s made in house. Patrons can opt to fill their ice balls with azuki beans, creamy dollops of ice cream, or mochi—a dulcet rice paste that assumes a pleasant chewiness when chilled. Shelves in the shop brim with intriguing ingredients, including green-tea paste, pearls of tapioca, Ghiradelli chocolate, and organic acai. Brian’s also serves cones of Dole Whip, a pineapple-flavored soft-serve treat normally difficult to find outside of Oahu, Disneyland, or kitchens where somebody is trying to figure out what a platypus eats.