In L.A., there always seem to be new ways to stuff our faces with ice cream, be it scooping the dessert onto wacky churros or loading it into waffle "taco shells." Now comes an imported trend straight from South Korea, in the form of a zany, J-shaped cone.
BluTusk, an ice cream shop on the second level of a Sawtelle strip mall right by Daiso and Nijiya Market, has been selling the hollow, puffed-corn cone (aka Jipangyi) filled with soft serve since December. While the cone made a splash in New York last year when Play J food truck introduced it stateside, BluTusk may well be the first L.A. joint to sling the dessert.
Owner Young Shim says that his friend told him he once saw the J-cone sold at a Korean food festival here but hasn't seen the dessert in a dedicated brick-and-mortar until now.
"It's popular in Korea, but not in L.A., so I tried to introduce it," Shim says.
Customers are given the choice to have the cone filled with vanilla or chocolate soft serve, or both. Shim then tops one end with sprinkles and the other with a raspberry. It makes for a bizarre and Instagrammable dessert.
The light and airy cone isn't sweet (the only ingredient is puffed corn), and it has the same texture as Corn Pops or Cap'n Crunch cereal. The shell is thick enough that the soft serve doesn't seep through or make the cone soggy. The unique shape also is this year supposed to help with the age-old problem of melty ice cream dripping.
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Shim has a local vendor who custom makes the cones for him, by using heat and pressure from a special machine to pop the corn and then shape the cone. Shim says it's difficult to find the right corn to use in L.A., since the kernels have to be perfect — dry and with about 10 to 20 percent moisture. He's been talking to overseas vendors about whether they can ship the delicate cones to him here. If he's able to do that, then he can get them in different colors and shapes, like the U- or V-shaped cones.
Shim has no prior culinary training; this is his first food shop. The retired investment banker worked overseas in Hong Kong and Singapore before deciding to come back to the United States 30 years after he attended grad school in Northern California.
Alongside the J-cone, BluTusk also serves the bite-sized Deli Manjoo. They're mini sponge cakes shaped like goldfish and injected with a small amount of creamy custard or red bean paste. The batter is light and thin, with a nice chewiness. Shim says it took three months to master making it.
BluTusk, 2130 Sawtelle Blvd., Sawtelle Japantown; (310) 477-4900.