Make cooling off an exercise in geography by investigating the cold drinks you'll find from East Los Angeles to Koreatown. Here are five that should keep you happy when there's a heat wave. Like right now. Turn the page.
5. Esaan's Melon Tapioca Drink:
Los Angeles may not be as steamy as Bangkok, but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy refreshing cold drinks like Esaan Thai's melon tapioca combo. It's a drinkable fruit salad, composed of watermelon and/or honeydew and cantaloupe. The fruit is so fresh it's still crunchy as you suck it up the straw. You'll be slurping up tiny tapioca pearls too. All this floats in sweetened coconut milk, cooled with ice. Very little sugar is added. "Most of the sweetness comes from the fruit," says restaurant owner Nattha Quan. 601 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles; (213) 488-9995.
4. Rose Falooda at Saffron Spot:
Saffron Spot's rose falooda is as sweet and pink a drink as you can get. Rose syrup amps up the color and so does a big scoop of the shop's rose ice cream. Instead of boba, slim rice noodles provide texture. Another exotic component is gelatinous sweet basil seeds (takmaria). All this is stirred together with milk for one of Little India's most popular coolers. 18744 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia; (562) 809-4554.
3. Boiling Point's Milk Green Tea with Pudding:
The green tea that flavors this aromatic drink comes from Taiwan, which is noted for its tea production. Two other components are also Taiwanese: fat dark boba pearls and the square of milk pudding that crumbles as you suck it up the straw with the boba. The pudding is made at the restaurant, but the powdered mix is manufactured in Taiwan. 250 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 300-9800.
2. La Nueva Fuente's Strawberry Drink:
What better to accompany your tlacoyo or milanesa than a fruity, light blend of strawberries, milk, sugar and vanilla. It's one of the drinks that appear on the counter at La Nueva Fuente, an always-crowded eating place on the second floor of El Mercado in East Los Angeles. The drinks are made there so they're always fresh and natural. 2nd floor, El Mercado, 3425 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles; (323) 268-7006.
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1. Affogato at Iota:
If you can't do without coffee even in a heat wave, head toward Koreatown and Iota Coffee & Bakery. There you'll find a smooth heat beater with a caffeine kick. It's affogato, two shots of espresso with vanilla ice cream. Coffee director Tommy Kim, who trained in Japan, turned this Italian specialty into a dessert-drink by adding soft serve vanilla ice cream that melts into the espresso as you stir. (Kim has just left Iota, and will open his own coffee shop later this year.) The house-blended espresso is 80 % Brazilian coffee (bold and sweet) 10 % Guatemalan (smoky and fruity) and 10 % from El Salvador (tropical fruit). If you like it, you can buy a bag to take home. 528 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 568-3700.
Read more from Barbara Hansen at www.EatMx.com, www.TableConversation.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.