Thursday, April 05, 2018

HoneyMee, Los Angeles & Irvine

I'll keep this one short.

I discovered amazing soft serve ice cream in Los Angeles.  This discovery was hot on the heels of being introduced to the concept of "milk" soft serve in Tokyo at Silkream, but, it blew away the soft serve from Tokyo (which, I thought was really good to begin with!)

Honeymee makes only one flavor of soft serve: milk.  It is made from Californian milk, so, not quite like in Japan where the shops offering milk ice cream all rave about Hokkaido milk, but, more appropriate for a California location.  Milk soft serve may not sound very exciting, even less so than "vanilla", and the options for toppings aren't exotic either (and mostly are based around honey, which you might expect, given the shop name), but, I assure you, this is a case where simplicity works out.

As a soft serve lover, I'm thrilled to see that the world is now making soft serve even more gourmet, and I can't wait to return to HoneyMee to try more of their creations.

Setting

Honeymee has several shops in the Los Angeles area, the one I first visited was in Little Tokyo, in October.  When I returned to the great LA area, to Irvine, a month later, I was delighted to discover that they had two locations there as well.
Ordering Area: Little Tokyo.
The shop was rather adorable.  I loved the white accents and wood elements.  The menu is displayed, with full images of everything, on colorful screens in front.  It was very easy to know what you'd be getting.

The Irvine location was similar, just without the white wainscoting.
Seating, Honey Products: Little Tokyo.
Seriously, how cute is this?  The place just felt so ... cozy and comfortable.

I loved the assorted honey products they used as decorations, which were not even for sale.  They are just showing off other fun uses of honey and bees wax.

The Irvine location also had a wall of honey products.
Counter Seating: Little Tokyo.
The shop isn't large, but in addition to the little tables, there were also some counters along the wall.

The Irvine location was even smaller.

Food & Drink

Honeymee serves only 4 types of items: ice cream, milkshakes, tea, and waffles (only at some locations). The ice cream is what drew me in, but, my heart skipped a beat when I saw liege waffles on the menu.  I love liege waffles, and they are cooked to order! Alas, my visit was post-lunch, and I really wanted to just try the soft serve.  Next time.
Menu.
The soft serve may only come in one flavor, but, it comes in a number of styles.  The signature creation is the namesake "Honeymee", topped wtih a honey and a small chunk of honeycomb.  If the honeycomb itself is a bit too much for you, the "Sweetie" has just liquid honey.  Craving caffeine? Turn it into an affogato, with coffee and honey.  Or a matcha affogato with matcha and honey.  Not feeling the honey?  The chocolate or caramel sauce are options.  The most elaborate is the "Sweetie Fruitie", with honey and freeze dried fruit.

To any of the ice creams, you can add additional toppings: sliced almonds, granola, honey oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, oreos, honey, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, sea salt..  The standard serving is in a cup (one size only), but you can upgrade to a waffle corn or ... a soft sweet hotdog bun!

For milkshakes, you can go fruity (strawberry, green apple), caffeinated (coffee, matcha), sweet (cookies 'n cream, chocolate, caramel), or floral (lavendar).

Coffee, cold brew, matcha, and assorted teas (sweetened with honey of course), round out the drink menu.

And finally ... waffles.  Liege waffles.  One of my favorite things.  And from reviews I read, HoneyMee does them justice.  They too come in only the plain base, but you can get them topped with honey, cream cheese, nutella, strawberry, blueberry, cream cheese & strawberry, cream cheese & blueberry, or of course, ice cream.  I was so tempted, but simply not hungry enough.

Visit #1: Los Angeles

Dear Caramel w/ Granola. $4.70 + $0.30.
"True milk ice cream with Ghirardelli® caramel syrup & sprinkles of sea salt from France."

I'll admit that I wasn't really excited by most of HoneyMee's choices for ice cream styles.  I didn't actually want honey.  And I didn't want chocolate or matcha since I didn't want caffeine.  Which left ... caramel.  So, the "Dear Caramel" is was.

Next, toppings.  Here is where I usually go crazy, but, at HoneyMee, the toppings were all ... healthy.  Nuts, seeds, oats ... those aren't really my style.  I was going to skip additional toppings entirely, but they have a $5 minimum for credit card purchases, and a topping was thus needed to hit the minimum.  Thus, I *had* to order one.  I went for the granola, thinking that some crunch would be nice at least.

My creation was handed over a minute late, a with the caramel drizzled down the sides and on top, granola sprinkled over the top, and sea salt shaken on at the end.

Well, huh, it sure did look good.

And it tasted incredible.

The ice cream really was, well, "milk" flavor, for lack of any better description.  It was creamy as could be, not too sweet, but also not tart.  It just tasted fresh and pure, if that makes any sense.

The sweet caramel complimented it beautifully, and I think the honey probably really would have been perfect, particularly if you like honey.

The granola added a nice crunch, what I wanted, but, I'd prefer chopped pralines or at least nuts other than almond slices.  Still, I was glad that I "had" to order it.

My only real complain is that there was only a touch of salt.  The bites I got with the salt and caramel together were absolutely lovely, the salt amped it up just like I hoped it would, but, I think I only had 3 such bites.

Overall though, this was incredible, some of the creamiest soft serve I've had, it melted beautifully, and the simple toppings worked well.  While I do like places to offer more than one size, the size was just right, I was ready to be done with it by the end, but it wasn't too much.

I'd gladly get another, although I think I actually would try honey next time ...

Visit #2: Irvine

Yuzu Afogado.
"True milk ice cream with natural honey, yuzu peel & pulp."

In the month between my visits to Honeymee, they introduced a new topping: yuzu, sorta a marmalade-ish syrup.  I was super tempted by this, as it sounded more unique, but I also know that sometimes I don't like citrus desserts.

So I asked if I could try the yuzu first, and was given a little sample cup of it.  I quasi-liked it.  It was a bit tangy and a bit sweet all at once, and a decent texture.  I almost ordered it myself, but decided against it.

Yuzu is available on ice cream, as a milk shake, or in hot or iced tea.  One of my companions did get the new "Yuzu Afogado", which was just a regular Darling topped with the yuzu, pictured here.
Sweetie + Coconut Flakes + Black Sesame Cone.
"True milk ice cream with 100% natural liquid honey swirl."

After much agonizing, I decided to get the honey topping, since my conclusion last time was that I should try the honey.  And just for a bit more texture, I added coconut flakes, which I also thought would combine nicely with the honey.

And then ... I did a crazy thing.  I opted for a cone, rather than a dish.  Why?  Because HoneyMee also added 3 new cones, in vibrant colors, ready for Instagram of course, but also, they were flavored.  Brilliant green matcha, red red velvet, and black black sesame.  They looked cool, and, I would have happily tried any of the flavors.

I thought eating my ice cream last time with a spoon in a cup worked great, but ... I do have a fondness for licking soft serve from a cone, so, cone it was, and black sesame was my entirely random choice.

The first thing I noticed as my massive, single size only, cone was handed over: when you upgrade to a cone, you get a much, much larger portion!  I easily had 1.5x the ice cream as those with cups.

Next of course I noticed that it had a little shelf around it, to catch the toppings as they fell off, and, I think to prevent the cone from turning into a sticky mess when they drizzle the whole thing with honey (which was fairly fun to watch them do).

The honey was indeed the perfect pairing that I hoped it would be.  Sweet and sticky, and really, just perfect with the milk flavor ice cream.  Clearly high quality honey as well.  I was sad when I ran out of honey on the outside, even though, it really was a lot of honey.  I had a bit of remorse that I opted for a cone, since the cups were layered with the caramel/honey/chocolate/etc.

The ice cream was again very creamy, melted perfectly, and tasted like ... milk.  Simple, but so good, it is hard to explain.  I liked the coconut too, but there wasn't much of it.  Next time, I actually think I'd like to try honey and sea salt ...

The cone however was less of a success.  It didn't taste like anything other than a waffle cone.  My companion got a red velvet one, and he felt similar.  We also both wound up with very sticky, honey covered hands.  But, I did love licking the soft serve from the cone, so, not a complete loss.  And ... it also turned out that the inside of the cone was lined with honey!  So, even though I thought I had ran out of honey, once I reached the cone, the honey element came back.  I was thrilled by this.

Overall, I loved my ice cream, and although the cone had flaws, I'd certainly still consider getting a cone again, just because I like to lick cones.  Or I'd get the version in a bun.  Or on a waffle.  Or go back to the cup.  Really, I'd do any option, gladly.
Honeymee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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