Monday, May 9, 2011

Restaurant: Saffron Spot, Artesia

Brightly colored exotic ice cream to brighten up your day awaits you on Pioneer Boulevard in L.A.'s unofficial Little India.

10 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy
The Details: This exotic little ice cream shop is the perfect place to tuck into your back pocket and pull out at the end of a date, a group dinner, or even after an exhausting day of haggling with store owners in L.A.'s unofficial Little India. I've used it on all of these occasions, including most recently after an agonizing day of trying to find matching bridesmaid saris (which I finally purchased, after making five separate trips to Artesia), and every time, Saffron Spot hits my personal "saffron spot" (which scientific experts insist does indeed exist.)

Saffron Spot is a small store (many times you'll see people eating outside at a little table instead), with a brightly-colored interior that is the perfect complement to its brightly colored ice cream. It does offer a few non-ice cream snacky things (including samosas and a chutney sandwich), but the ice cream is so exceptional that I haven't managed to move past that yet. It also offers exotic milks (like rose), shaved ice, and hot drinks (like masala milk).

There are typically 16 flavors available and on display. I love how colorful the display is. It's like edible Play-Doh. The restaurant has more than 25 ice cream recipes in total, so be sure to go back more than once to see what new flavors are in the case. Plus, there are also slices of kulfi (a super rich Indian ice cream) available, which I've been meaning to try. I also just found out the restaurant can make you a milkshake of any of its flavors. Hmm...we've been having 90-degree weather recently, right? Surely, a milkshake is justified.

My personal favorite flavor so far is Saffron Silk, saffron ice cream blended with rose and pistachios (shown on the bottom of this two-scoop cup). I remember the first time I tasted it I felt like I'd tasted everything good about India in one bite. It's so delicious. My second favorite so far is Rose (shown on the top of this cup). I love that delicate smell and taste. On this occasion one of my bridesmaids, Melanie, was with me (in response to a frantic call regarding the saris), and she too thought Saffron Silk slightly edged out Rose. (If you want to try both, you can get two scoops for $4.50; one is $2.95.)

In addition to milkshakes, the restaurant can make you something called a falooda, which I'm intrigued by but so far scared to try. (I'm usually super adventurous with food, but at certain places, I get scared to mess up a good thing.) Basically, it's four mini scoops of ice cream on a bed of rice noodles and topped with rose syrup and basil seeds.

Parking is easy. It's part of the Little India Village, and so shares a private lot with the neighboring businesses in this two-story Indian mini-mall. However, beware the parking nazi. He once literally chased me out of the Little India Village parking lot, yelling "move your car." Except that my car wasn't parked in that lot...yeahh, awkward. I was actually walking back to my car at the time. I almost always park on the street (there's a lot of free street parking around), because I'm just the type of person who actually likes to walk in L.A. Plus, in this particular neighborhood, it's fun to window-shop.

Have you been to Saffron Spot? What's your favorite flavor? Anyone tried the falooda?

Saffron Spot, 18744 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia 90701. (562) 809-4554.


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