There is an onslaught of high-quality ice cream shops heading to Los Angeles this summer, but keep your eyes peeled for Sylvia Yoo's churro ice cream sandwiches from her guerrilla operation, Churro Borough.
In 2007, Yoo enrolled in culinary school in New York and eventually worked in some of the city's most formidable kitchens, including Jean-Georges and WD-50. When she returned to LA she found work at an interior design firm, and tried balancing four days there and two days on the line at Red Medicine under then–pastry chef David Rodriguez. The pressure of maintaining both jobs was fierce and exhausting, and Yoo eventually left the restaurant.
"When I moved back to LA, it was the beginning of the ice cream boom, with places like Carmela and Sweet Rose opening shop. Working in pastry, ice cream was always my favorite thing to make and eat. I had dreams of running my own business, but I knew I needed my product to stand out."
Cue the churro, an ideal balance of temperature, texture, and taste, and a favorite childhood memory that Yoo intended to give a makeover. She settled in the middle between two categories. She noticed the frozen kind, from TJ's and Disneyland, were high on flavor but too chewy (or even stale). She sampled more from Churros Calientes in LA and La Churreria in NYC. Both were authentically Spanish, crispy, but not so overtly sweet. Then she began rolling churro dough into flat spirals. The increased surface area lent itself to ideal crispiness, the disc shape was perfect for ice cream sandwiches. Yoo describes her churros as almost beignetlike, with a nice dose of moisture on the inside.
Yoo makes all the components herself. Her ice cream tends to be on the creamy side, and she avoids strong citrus and tart flavors. She offers four standard ice cream sandwiches, including horchata with a homemade rice-and-almond-milk ice cream, Mexican hot chocolate, and two seasonal flavors (right now there’s orange creamsicle and berry panna cotta). Ice cream shakes with churro dipping fries, and Churrons (churro-flavored macarons) are in the works too.
Churro Borough’s been around since 2011, when Yoo did her first pop-up with Mexicali Taco Co. before their current brick-and-mortar location. She continues to cater weddings and other functions. She’ll be at the LA Street Food Festival at the Rose Bowl on June 28, and at Tasting Table's Lobster Rumble West on August 1. Keep a lookout for pop-ups in July and August.
Photos courtesy of Sylvia Yoo.
Justin Bolois is a writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBolois.