>> Friday, February 13, 2009

Yogomonster and OKO have closed.
70-19 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 261-0661

71-50 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-6010

In the summertime, when the weather is high, and you can reach right up and touch the sky, and you've got women on your mind, the odds are that plenty of these women are trying to find frozen yogurt and someone to eat it with.

Frozen yogurt. FroYo. In New York City, the words are synonymous with Tasti-D-Lite. Tasti-D. In the past couple of years, the Tasti-D's stranglehold on the froyo market has been undermined by the trendy Pinkberry chain. Pinkberry is more hip, more fun, more upscale. Think of Pinkberry as the Starbucks to Tasti-D-Lite's Dunkin Donuts.

Here in Forest Hills, we have our own froyo competition a-brewin'. Yes, there's a Tasti-D-Lite, but it's hidden in the Forest Hills Mini Mall* on Continental. Here in Forest Hills (and in Park Slope, too, so Park Slopers may find relevance with this post) we have YogoMonster dueling with Oko Yogurt & Tea. Two new and hip yogurterias. It's chilly out, so they tend to be less populated these days than I know that they'll be come the Spring and the Summertime when the weather is high. But that just means standing in line for less time. And I hate standing on lines.


There's no avoiding noticing the effort put into the style of YogoMonster. It's clean lines, bright colors, and bleached white interior feels young and energetic and hip. I foresee overflow on hot summer nights. Especially given their location right around the corner from the restaurants on 70th and literally across the street from the UA Brandon movie theater.

In addition to froyo, the menu, which is otherwise pretty simple, has waffles and smoothies. I love waffles.

My excursion to YogoMonster led me to try two of their yogurts. First, the Vanilla. Perfect. Very smooth, almost like a light ice cream, but without any lack of flavor that one might think would accompany such a description. This is probably the best vanilla frozen yogurt I've ever had. And when I say smooth, I mean "Tasti-D-Lite should be taking notes". Their froyo, in my opinion, has the consistency of clumpy sand most of the time... though some would argue that they make up for it in numerous unique flavors, each more wacky than the last. Not to skip ahead, but YogMonster frozen yogurts were also smoother than Oko's.

Next up, coffee fiend that I am, Cappuccino. Very good. Very much like what a cappuccino would taste like if it were frozen into a soft paste, but a bit more gritty than the vanilla. I'm not saying don't get it. I'm merely saying that the oldies but goodies stay goodies even though they're oldies for a reason.


As of this writing, Oko is polling far ahead of YogoMonster, according to the blog Forest Hills 72, though that could simply be from people having voted for the only one that they've been to thus far. Still, Oko is much smaller and can't possibly compete on a trendy level with YogoMonster. Oko's hook is in its environmental consciousness. From little "think about your carbon footprint"-type sayings on the wall to it's biodegradable plastic utensils, Oko is all about making you feel rewarded for having chosen them over their evil competitors. Additionally, while YogoMonster is clearly more fun to go to, Oko is more intimate. There's a more neighborhoody feel to the place. Something that was confirmed when regular after regular showed up to place orders.

Where YokoMonster is all about the froyo, Oko offers a wider menu. Teas, coffees, sandwiches, and desserts (other than frozen yogurt) are available. This makes its small size all the more regrettable. On the plus side, free wi-fi is offered at all five (5) of it's tables, making it just slightly easier to get a table there than at the Starbucks on Continental.

Here at Oko, I again ordered two small-sized froyos. The first up to the plate: Original. I don't exactly know what original means and when I asked, the woman at the counter just said "it's the original flavor." Oh. Well, okay then. If I were to try to describe it, I'd say that it's like plai with a light hint of lychee berry. It's certainly something that I'd say you'll either like or dislike, but while I sat there, most people who came in were ordering it.

The second flavor I took a try of was Wildberry, which tasted literally like fresh wild berries turned into a cold dessert (seeds and all). It was tart though. More so than a berry ice cream would be, but less than a berry sorbet. This was the second most popular froyo people ordered while I sat in the corner. I guess that I either lucked out, or am part of the statistical mean.

The small-sized Yogurts, sans toppings, are $4.25 at both YogoMonster and Oko. The staff at both places were comparably great and both had scads of topping to offer their patrons.

Who wins? I think that they tie.

*(side note, why is a cool Tudor-style, brick, tree-lined shopping space filled with a vitamin store and cheap barbershop instead of nice bistro restaurants and a cocktail lounge a la Little Branch? Total waste.)

I thought that Tasti-D-Lite moved into the Forest Hills Mini Mall, but I was wrong. Instead, a Tasti-D-Lite clone using the exact same color scheme did. It's called The Lite Choice.


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