With Valentine’s Day behind us and spring just around the corner, this month’s issue of dishes worth the drive from Los Angeles to Irvine offers a little sweet and a little savory. These two places are so unique that we truly believe they make up for the often rough commute from L.A. to Orange County.
Our first stop is on the sweet side: Creamistry, an ice cream shop where everything, even the ice cream, is made to order by their “Creamologists.”
“We use a liquid nitrogen freezing process. It’s negative 320 degrees, so pretty much right on contact with the milk base, it just solidifies and freezes,” says Creamistry Marketing Director Kenny Cho. “The instant freezing process is actually pretty crucial to the texture of the ice cream because it doesn’t allow for any additional air to get mixed in and it prevents the formation of ice crystals. So what you end up with is a really nice, creamy, dense ice cream product that’s kind of hard to imitate without a similar freezing process using liquid nitrogen.”
Definitely not your tub of ice cream from the grocery store, Cho’s description of Creamistry’s handmade ice cream is spot on and really sets it apart from any other ice cream.
Creamistry started when the founder went on a business trip to Korea in the early 2000s and saw a street vendor making custom ice cream by hand. That stuck with him and finally, in 2013, he and his wife decided to start experimenting with the concept. “Literally within their home kitchen, they tried the liquid nitrogen process and tested out over 100 different flavors. That culminated in opening the first Creamistry shop at the Irvine location in 2013,” says Cho.
Creamistry now has about 60 locations throughout the country (there are closer ones than Irvine around L.A., such as Beverly Hills and Koreatown, but since Irvine is the flagship store, we thought that’s worth the drive).
Not only is the ice cream custom-made, but customers can customize their own orders as well. “A customer can choose one of many bases. We have an organic cream base, our signature premium cream base and for any of our lactose intolerant or vegan customers, we also offer a coconut and cashew base. We do also offer sorbets as well,” says Cho.
Some of us can be easily overwhelmed with too many options, so if that’s the case, we have two recommendations for you:
The first dish is one of their Creations. A “Creation” is a cup with layers of two scoops of ice cream, two toppings, sauce and whipped cream. Creamistry just launched a brand new Creation called the Elvis Presley, which is perfect for any banana lover. “We add the fresh bananas [to the milk base], we mix it up, we freeze it and scoop it right on the spot. [It’s] layers of fresh banana ice cream, fresh banana slices, Reese’s Peanut Butter sauce and real bacon. [It comes in a] nice clear cup with all those layers and topped with whipped cream,” says Cho. We can attest that it’s delicious.
The other dish is their Fruity Pebbles ice cream sandwich. Creamistry offers upgrades to customers, one of which is the option to turn their ice cream into a sandwich, a bowl, a brownie bowl, etc. While the opportunities to make a sandwich are endless, we’re recommending the Fruity Pebble one. “Think of it as a rice crispy treat but we make it with Fruity Pebbles instead,” says Cho. “So [it’s] a custom ice cream sandwich between two Fruity Pebble marshmallow treats. It’s pretty delicious and pretty visually appealing as well.” The marshmallow twist makes this an especially unique sandwich that’s definitely worth the trip from Los Angeles!
If savory, rather than sweet, is more your thing, then head on over to Le Diplomate Café in the University Center. Le Diplomate Café is an old staple, having been open since 1995. “It’s been here in the same place for over 20 years!” says Le Diplomate Café Manager Lisa Park. Its French-Vietnamese fusion definitely makes it a unique dining destination.
The first dish we recommend trying here is the Chicken Broccoli Mushroom sandwich. It comes with oven-baked chicken breast, steamed broccoli and mushroom, all in a French baguette roll with a garlic sauce and cheese, grilled Panini-style. “The garlic sauce is our signature sauce. We make [it] here, [in house],” says Park. The combination of the food mixed with this special garlic sauce definitely makes this dish worth the drive from L.A.
The second dish we’re recommending is one of three types of Vietnamese sandwiches served at Le Diplomate Café. This one is called the Bahm Mi. It has barbecue pork, pickled veggies, jalapenos and cilantro. However, there’s one other special ingredient that truly makes this sandwich as delicious as it is: the bread. “We bake [our] bread here, everyday. It’s more fresh and it tastes good,” says Park. Indeed, the fresh bread on this sandwich makes it stand out from just any sandwich. The Café also features a wide selection of coffee and smoothies to enjoy with your food. As Park said, Le Diplomate Café has decent prices and great food, and that alone can make a long trip worth its weight in gold!
Whether you prefer sweet or savory, ice cream or chicken, follow these recommendations on your next journey from L.A. to Irvine and your palette will definitely be thanking you. Catch us next month with four new dishes that we think can make the case for a trip down south!
3972 Barranca Pkwy Suite D
Irvine, CA 92606
Le Diplomate Café
University Center, Suite B161
Irvine, CA 92612