Would you roll your eyes if I told you that we checked out a new cupcake place? How about a frozen yogurt place? Are you completely over the cupcake and fro-yo trends and ready to move on to donut mania 2013?
Before you jump head first into donutville, take a moment to consider Dupont Circle's new Yocake. Yocake is the brainchild of siblings Ellen and Edward Quach. Their mom is a French-trained pastry chef and her recipes inspired over 90 varieties of cupcakes in Yocake's rotating selection. The siblings opened up a shop in Rockville and one in the Montgomery Mall (since closed due to foodcourt renovations) before setting their sights on DC.
We had the great fortune to be invited to an opening party to see what Yocake is all about. The Quach siblings and their super friendly staff gave us slices of about a dozen different cupcakes to sample. I loved the banana caramel coconut, the raspberry lemonade, and the chocolate peanut butter, while B gave high marks to the almond pear and key lime pie. The cupcakes are reasonably sized and moderately priced at $2.75 each. They have a "buy 5 get 1 free" deal that's unlimited. So, for your next office party you can buy 50 and get 10 free. They also run a special where they'll give you a free cupcake if you check-in on your mobile device (limit 1 per customer and 50 per location per day).
If you're not in a cupcake mood, you can go straight for the frozen yogurt. They have a rotating flavor selection ranging from tart Pinkberry-style flavors to sweet flavors like cake batter. The toppings bar is top-notch with homemade (!) mochi in several flavors and unique toppers such as mango popping bubbles. They also have cookie-yogurt sandwiches called Yokies that looked pretty awesome.
If you want to go all in, try the namesake creation: the Yocake. You pick a cupcake flavor, they put it in a cup, then swirl your choice of frozen yogurt on top. They will also top it off with your choice of toppings from the toppings bar.
B and I split a banana caramel coconut cupcake topped with cake batter yogurt, coconut mochi, and blueberry popping bubbles. I really liked the yogurt and toppings but waited too long to dig down in the cup to get to the cupcake. By the time I reached the cupcake, it was cold and crumbly with frozen frosting. This was probably user error on my part, but I think I'd prefer having the cupcake served on the side. This is coming from the kid who ate all the ice cream out of the Baskin Robbins ice cream cake and never touched the cake, so take that for what you will.
Second Thoughts From B
I understand your skepticism. You must be thinking that if you butter us up with enough buttercream, we'll sing your praises throughout the blogosphere. And I'd be naive to say that my sugar coma didn't positively affect my impression of Yocake. So instead of waxing poetic with flowery non-descriptive adjectives, let me spell out a few of the concrete things I liked, and yes, didn't like, about Yocake.
What will make me come back:
- The family: there is something to be said about supporting a local family-run business. You won't meet a nicer group.
- The prices: Outside of the generic options at Safeway, where else can you get cupcakes for under $3 these days?
- The variety: When they said they have 90 flavors, I did a double take. I then assumed it was made up of ridiculous novelty flavors but as they rattled off example after example, I was intrigued more than skeptical.
- The frosting: It was more than a hit or two of sugar. The flavors were distinct and interesting. Maple and almond were memorable and several of the fruit-based flavors were outstanding.
- The location: Unlike a few other notable cupcakeries, it is not in Georgetown.
- The toppings: To me, the frozen yogurt experience has nothing to do with the yogurt. Unless you have an off the charts fun factor, the toppings are what does it. Bonus points for homemade toppings. The mochi was soft and the bubbles perfectly tart.
- The cake: with the notable exception of the carrot cake and some of the fruit cakes (that have real fruit chunks!), the cake was simply a vehicle to get the frosting in my mouth. Some were on the firm and dry side but I did appreciate those that had filling.
- The seating: unless you are lucky enough to get the only table, you'll be eating your sweets on the go.