1. IKEA – $1 is the total cost for their drippy-delicious non-fat frozen yogurt cone. There's no fresh fruit or cereal for toppings. What's more, IKEA's yogurt is squarely set on the sweet side of the spectrum, not the sour. But it's swirled by a trained IKEA employee into a standard cake cone as a windy, sky-scraping helix. They stretch it as tall as possible until it becomes a precarious, wobbly spiral that seems to dare gravity into reclaiming it.
2. Strickland's – They make green tea ice cream of incomparable quality and flavor, besting even Japanese brands I formerly regarded as the benchmark. My advice: If they have green tea as one of the flavors of the day, get it. Else, look for it in the pre-packed cartons. Otherwise, schedule your visits around their appearance by checking their Flavor of the Day calendar.
3. Joe's Italian Ice – In a lonely hut, on an asphalt lot, just outside of the border from the Disney territory is Joe's Italian Ice — and ice cream and frozen confectionary stand, solitary in the night, looking like something straight out of an Edward Hopper painting — a refuge from the desolate, bathed in light. Their Italian ices came in 14 flavors, get served in waxed cups, and tinted with artificial coloring; but still, it oddly tastes like the real fruit they are meant to emulate.
4. Piccomolo – Gelato gets no respect around these parts. Instead, it's yogurt this and yogurt that. But Piccomolo's got it represented in rippled heaps inside metal bins and in more flavors than the Simpsons have episodes. And although they call it “fruit gelato”, the sorbetto, gelato's fruitier sister, holds her own in another set of bins.
5. Yogurtland – But if you must have frozen yogurt, you might as well have it in the shop that popularized the build-and-weigh trend. Yogurtlands are everywhere now, getting dangerously close to the point of Starbucks-like saturation. Well, at least it's cheaper and the substance they sell is slightly less addictive. I said slightly.
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.