If you know me, you probably know that I have a weakness for frozen creamy desserts – gelato, ice cream, sorbet… and frozen yogurt is no exception. That icy and silky texture is such a comfort for me, no matter the time of year or temperatures outside. Forget popcorn, frozen yogurt is my go-to snack at the movie theatres… sometimes I find myself more excited for the cup of fro-yo than the actual movie *ahem* Glee the 3D Concert Movie *ahem*.
Moving to Edmonton I was disappointed that the fro-yo scene was quite subpar. I mean, Twisted Yogurt is alright, I like that there are several locations in the city. I also enjoy their plain yogurt but many of the flavours and colours can be too artificial for my taste – “Cotton Candy” and “Raspberry Cappuccino” just aren’t flavours I want in my yogurt, nor is a bright shade of “Wicked” green. Besides the product, I was disappointed with their service levels – out of 4 visits (to 2 different locations), I was only greeted once.
Which is why when Tutti Frutti opened, I was excited for another option. Tutti Frutti was founded in California during the summer of 2007. By 2010, they had expanded to over 245 stores. Currently, Tutti Frutti has over 400 stores around the world making it the largest international frozen yogurt retailer. Quite an accomplishment for only 4 years.
Tutti Frutti opened its first Canadian location this past August on Whyte Ave. Owner Angela Seto and her family came across Tutti Frutti while traveling in Hong Kong. They quickly found themselves addicted to the fro-yo and stopping into Tutti Frutti everyday during their vacation to satisfy cravings. Being from Edmonton, Angela and her family decided to bring Tutti Frutti home. Smart way to keep your cravings satisfied – buy the store!
On my first visit to Tutti Frutti, I was confused for a second until I realized the frozen yogurt shop was located downstairs. Walking into the store, I was immediately struck by the clean look of the big open space and the vast amount of seating**. Greeted by a friendly girl, I was asked if I had ever been there before. She explained the self-serve concept which is similar to that of Twisted Yogurt and Qoola in Vancouver. You get your own yogurt and toppings, and are charged based on the weight of your cup. Easy, peasy – let the yogurt fun begin…
I grabbed a cup and then realized I had a big challenge ahead of me – I had to choose from 14 yummy-sounding yogurt flavours! Unlike other yogurt shops where I normally see 6-8 yogurt flavours and a gazillion toppings, Tutti Frutti provides more variety of yogurt flavours and two buffet style trays containing about 18 toppings each. On that first visit, I chose Passion Fruit & Pineapple as the yogurt base. Topped it with strawberries, pineapple, and mochi. I was intrigued to see mochi as an option. Mochi is rice cake often used in savoury or sweet Asian treats. One of my favourite treats growing up were mochi wrapped ice cream balls so pairing mochi with frozen yogurt sounded like a great idea to me. The yogurt was tangy and creamy. Topped with the strawberries and pineapples it was a fresh cup of goodness. But the gummy, sweet mochi was still my favourite part.
Since that first visit, I’ve visited Tutti Frutti frequently. I find myself looking for excuses to get near Tutti Frutti for a cup of delicious fro-yo & mochi. Stopping in for a fro-yo after my regular Sat stop at Strathcona Farmer’s Market, or “oh hey, I have a business meeting at the University. Whyte Ave is on the way home to the Southside right…?!
I’ve tried a variety of their yogurt flavours: Mango, Taro, Pistachio, Pumpkin Pie, TF Tart, Cookies and Cream, Death by Chocolate, etc. and although never disappointed, my favourite is still Pineapple, usually topped with fruit, my beloved mochi, and maybe something for crunch. I find Tutti Frutti offers a good balance of traditional yogurt flavours (ex. Pistachio, Death by Chocolate), inventive flavours (Pumpkin Pie, Red Velvet Yogurt), and flavours with an Asian undertone (ex. Green Tea, Taro)… the same goes for their toppings. I’m assuming the balance comes from having a Korean-American founder, their own Tutti Frutti development team, and research kitchen.
I’ve also been impressed with the great customer service at Tutti Frutti. I’ve been greeted each time I’ve shown up. On one visit, the store had run out of mochi *gasp* but the staff were so sweet, they tweeted me to advise when my mochi had come in AND saved me a cup of the gummy rice balls.
The only downfall of Tutti Frutti is that they only have one location in Edmonton. However, Angela and her family own the Tutti Frutti rights in Canada and rumour has it they are planning on growing the Western Canadian footprint aggressively over 2012, then expanding to the rest of the country. Angela, if you’re reading this – I’d like to put in a request for a location in South Edmonton… pretty please? I’m going to need my Tutti Frutti fix to get me through my first Edmonton winter.
** In case you’re wondering, the best seats in the house are the 3 upstairs near the entrance. They overlook Whyte Ave and are great seats to people watch while enjoying a cup of yummy frozen yogurt.
Photos by the amazing Dong Kim (aka. @buntcake)