The idea of cold, creamy yogurt swirled in a cup and topped with tasty treats calls to mind "fro-yo," that syrupy-sweet, soft-serve-like-substance of days of yore. That is deeply unfortunate.
Because the offerings at Karmic Yogurt, a new frozen-yogurt shop in Shadyside, far surpass any of that well-known swirly confection. The yogurt here has a totally different taste -- tart is the word -- and it's not to be mistaken for fro-yo, or to be missed.
"There are still a lot of people expecting soft-serve," says Karmic owner Matthew Yang. But what he's serving is real, high-quality yogurt that, when frozen, is wonderfully cold and refreshing.
It comes in only two flavors -- regular and matcha, or green tea. But like the more traditional frozen yogurts, it can be topped with anything from fresh fruit to Lucky Charms. Choose a flavor, and then pick up to three toppings.
A small matcha with graham crackers took the edge off a sweltering afternoon beautifully. The texture of the yogurt was smooth and thick, and it didn't induce the dairy coma that sugary ice cream sometimes brings. It was light, satisfying and, frankly, pretty energizing. The delicate green-tea flavor was a lovely counterpoint to the tart yogurt. This was miles from a kiddie-cone, drippy-sweet soft-serve.
The tart-yogurt trend, explains Yang, began in South Korea. It was introduced to Los Angeles by the Pinkberry chain. Tart-yogurt venues have since sprung up in New York and Washington, D.C. "I wanted to bring it here so people in Pittsburgh can have it," says Yang, a consultant-turned-entrepreneur.
He buys the high-quality yogurt from a supplier in Oregon. It's never powdered, and it's full of active cultures. The green tea is imported from Japan, and Yang mixes it himself. And a typical small serving (without toppings) has about 90 calories and is nonfat.
Yang's own favorite topping is strawberries, which he says is the most popular of the two dozen offerings. There's also lychee, mango and pineapple; fruit goes well with this more sophisticated yogurt. Sure, you could put gummi bears and chocolate on your yogurt, but really, why mess up a good thing?
731 Filbert St., Shadyside