Entrepreneur Smita Salgaonkar has crafted Indian-inspired ice creams for more than 10 years at the brightly pigmented Saffron Spot shop, scooping more than two dozen exotic flavors into cups and cones. The signature saffron silk flavor sings notes of rose and pistachio as it melts in mouths, while fruity blends such as guava and jackfruit roll around the edges of the tongue like flavorful marbles. Milk shakes join any ice-cream flavor with milk and straws, while hot drinks include coffee beverages and almond-flavored badam milk.
Tucked away in the kitchen of each Paris Baguette, bakers trained in French techniques craft buttery, flaky croissants and tart crusts, and their success at this has earned attention from the likes of the New York Times. In addition to pastries and sweets such as mocha rice balls, the bakers knead bread for their namesake baguettes and yeasty creations that hold an Asian twist, such as red-bean-paste-filled donuts. The experts also create fondant-cloaked cakes that venture beyond classic flavors into green tea, cappuccino, and sweet potato, delighting partygoers bored of the same laminated sheet cake that makes its appearance at each year’s birthday celebration.
To wash down these treats, patrons sip cups of java or more exotic drinks such as wheatgrass and black-sesame lattes, persimmon smoothies, and bubble tea. At lunchtime, many locations layer sandwiches, filling hungry stomachs with croque monsieurs and baguettes stuffed with chicken and pesto.
In 2008, four sisters started Bambu Desserts & Drinks as a hobby. Today, the San Jose?born brand has established a major presence in the Bay Area, and has expanded to other states including Hawaii, Nevada, and Texas. Bambu?s success can be traced to the quality of its treats, as well as its variety: the menu is packed with about 100 Asian-inspired desserts and beverages. Tapioca balls float in their milk teas, which range in flavor from lychee to coconut to jasmine, and their dessert drinks combine such intriguing ingredients as coconut, pandan jelly, longan, basil seed?which form the Bambu special. Various hot and cold coffee drinks, such as Vietnamese coffee, caf? mochas, and lattes, put a spring in guests' step?more convenient than filling your shoes with jumping beans. The staffers also concoct blended coffees and smoothies, which come in flavors including strawberry, coconut, papaya, and avocado.
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.
Though the chewy boba pearls are the stars at Boba Day, they aren't the only culinary highlight. Staff serve not only bubble tea, but a variety of custom-made drinks including fresh-fruit smoothies, cups of single-origin coffee, and creamy Oreo shakes. The menu also includes Asian-inspired shaved ices made with green tea mochi, fresh fruit, green tea ice cream, or red beans.
Upon first glance, Tiki Monster H2O looks like your average snack shop—there's shelves packed with colorful candies and bags of chips, coolers filled with frosty soda bottles, and a counter lined with flavored syrups for snow-cones. Examine the inventory more closely, however, and you'll encounter retro, novelty, and unusual treats interspersed with familiar selections of Coca-Cola cans and packets of Cheetos. There are more than 100 different types of gourmet sodas, many in inventive flavors such as chocolate-covered maple-smoked bacon, green-apple jalapeno, and key lime pie. Shelves are also lined with vintage candies and international sweets, ranging from kitschy candy cigarettes to Asian red-bean ice-cream bars.
As guests marvel at the colorful labels of cartoon-character energy drinks and peruse racks of sunglasses, staffers keep busy behind the counter. They blend up simmering specialty Marley coffee beverages and shaved-ice drinks in flavors such as orange cream, chai tea, and salted-caramel cream. They frequently screen old westerns on the shop's TV, transporting viewers back to a time when cowboys still rode horses and regularly dined on tree bark.