As a longtime cereal enthusiast who was indoctrinated practically from birth with the idea that every bowl should have at least two varieties of cereal in it, I had been eagerly awaiting the advent of a cereal bar in Los Angeles since I'd heard of the concept from friends elsewhere in the country. Juju, seemingly the first such place in Hell-Ay, opened just a week ago on Westwood Blvd. near the Crest Theater. I tried it out for a post-lunch snack yesterday; in a moment, the results of that trial.
First of all, the menu. It's similar to the 21 Choices / xBerry format, where you choose your base, your toppings, and so forth. You start off by choosing two different cereals (or a double serving of one cereal) to have in your bowl; fifty varieties are available, from Special K to Cookie Crisp (and the cereals are conveniently separated into two lists, sugary and non-sugary); "organic" cereals like Kashi are fifty cents extra.
Then you choose your toppings, which really run the gamut -- there are the usuals (strawberries, banana, raisins, etc.), the fringier usuals (coconut, flax seed powder, pineapple, mango), the overtly unhealthy (chocolate chips, sprinkles, oreo crumbles), and the toppings that can only be described as "holy shit that does not belong anywhere near cereal" (gummi bears, frosting, malt balls, marshmallows, and chocolate pretzels, to name a few). You get three toppings included at the standard price, so there's ample opportunity to design the most disgusting combination the world has ever dreamed of.
Finally you choose your milk -- the standard price only gives you a choice of nonfat, lowfat, or whole, but for 50 cents extra you can have soy, chocolate, strawberry, or banana.
Now for a word on that "standard price." If you think the idea of going to a specialty cafe for a bowl of cereal is ridiculous, you're only half right -- it's both ridiculous and expensive. An average-sized bowl of cereal as I described it above is a whopping $5.75. If you want two types of organic cereal with soy milk, you're north of seven dollars. (For those not requiring toppings, a two-cereal mix with just milk is available for $4.20, a price that I'm sure is meant as an unsubtle nod to the demographic they're hoping will keep them in business.)
Like I said, I'm a cereal fanatic. I love the idea, and the concoction I ordered (Kix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch topped with yogurt raisins, peanut butter, and strawberries) was ten kinds of delicious. But I am not going to be warming up to that price any time soon, and I really don't know who will. The yogurt craze has enabled the Berries of the world to gouge us for their product, but at least that's something you can't make at home (unless you're Leo DiCaprio and own your own machine).
One final note: There is something undeniably strange about eating a bowl of cereal in a public cafe. For me this is an activity that's inextricably linked with sitting on the couch in a t-shirt and boxers with unkempt hair, watching last night's Tivo'd Daily Show; and I felt a slight twinge of embarrassment as I stared down at the last little bit of milk in the bowl, murky with cereal residue... nonetheless, there was no going back now, so I put the bowl up to my lips, drank down the last vestiges of my bowl, and never looked back.
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