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LAist Interview: Peter Ji of Scoops

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Submitted and Written By Dan Collins

For ice cream lovers, Scoops is the frozen jewel in the Heliotrope Corridor crown (also called the Bicycle Districk and Hel-Mel), just around the corner from the legendary punk rock pavilion on Melrose known as the Ukrainian Center. Today’s urban sophisticate finds that nothing cools one down after a midnight bike ride’s next day sun-soaked hangover more than gourmet ice cream at bargain prices. And Scoops has all the flavors you’ve never tried: rosemary and goat cheese, brown bread, avocado banana—even some made out of booze!

The scoopers behind the counter are friendly and ready with a taste spoon if you can’t decide what to get (and who could?), so I thought I’d grab one and ask for an interview. Turns out the fellow behind the counter, Peter Ji, was more than happy to lend a voice to the shop (“I do all the PR for Scoops!”). Though I didn’t get any free ice cream out of it, I think they put some love into my bowl.

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DAN: So, who makes the ice cream?

PETER: Tai Kim, the founder of Scoops. He’s been doing this for about three years.

DAN: Was this always the location? Did the location inspire the nature of the restaurant?

PETER: It was, yeah. I think what kind of inspired Tai to locate here was the Bicycle Kitchen, and also Pure Luck, and also the coffee shop, and LACC, that’s what inspired him to come to Heliotrope and to take his ice cream business here.

DAN: Did you ever have any trouble with any of the other local businesses?

PETER: Um, not yet...

DAN: Did the Mondo Video patrons ever come in and get all crazy?

PETER: You know, if anything, that was always something we saw as a precious gem, you know?

DAN: Yeah, I loved that place. I was there the night that they closed! It was great.

PETER: You know, it really was! And after they went out of business, it was just awkward around here! Having Mondo Video was everything! It was Heliotrope, I'd say.

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DAN: How come you have so many vegan flavors?

PETER: Because we care about everyone. It's not just about people who eat dairy ice cream. We do want to be able to bring in different clientele, such as the vegans. And also there's a big vegan clientele in Heliotrope anyway, so why not?

DAN: Yeah, I'm one of them. I had four different flavors today!

PETER: Oh, which ones?

DAN: I had... hazelnut whatever, and the Chocolate Merlot, and the Banana Oreo, and the Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar.

PETER: Yeah, that's actually my favorite, the Strawberry Balsamic.

DAN: What's your least favorite flavor?

PETER: Oh, um, the Barbecue Bacon.

DAN: Ugh! Has there ever been a flavor where it seemed good in the practice room, but when you actually brought it to customers, it was disgusting and everyone hated it?

PETER: Honestly, there will be some. I can't say which is which, because we have different flavors... I'm going to have to say Barbecue Bacon.

DAN: And you guys still have it?

PETER: We had it once. And I think it's almost like a dare--people have to come in and try it. And that's how you want it.

DAN: You know, Jelly Belly has actually made flavors of jelly bean that actually aren't edible in nature, like cement and earthworm and grass. Have you ever done something like that?

PETER: No, not that I know of.

DAN: Well, that's a strong suggestion from our readership! I'd love to have cement ice cream. What kind of booze flavors have you done?

PETER: Um, Guinness, Jagermeister. A lot with Jack Daniels, I would say.

DAN: Do people ever walk out of here drunk?

PETER: I don't think they could.

DAN: Do you ever have underage kids walk out of here with, you know, like eighteen scoops of Jagermeister ice cream?

PETER: Ha ha! Not that I know of. I hope not! I mean, it's all proportioned, we don't add too much, and it's all cooked. It's just for flavoring.

DAN: What's the most exotic ingredient you've used?

PETER: Durian.

DAN: What is "durian?"

PETER: Durian is a South East Asian fruit. It smells like a sewer, tastes like a sewer... it really does! It's one of those flavors you either hate or you like.

DAN: I noticed there are other ice cream shops in other towns like this one, but none really here besides you guys. Do you have a network of other crazy ice cream restaurants in other towns?

PETER: Not yet, but we do have good tidings with other restaurants here and there, such as M Café, stuff like that.

DAN: Who's your city councilman?

PETER: I don't know! That's a good question. You tell me.

DAN: I'm not from here, dude. I'm from Highland Park!

PETER: Ha ha! Well, I'll have to get back to you on that one.