2017 03 18 21.17.26

John's Ube Ice Cream: Neighboring the Berkeley Bike Station is a small ice cream shop named John's with barely enough room for two sets of freezers and a single-file queue that regularly extends well past the doors. Given the size of the establishment, it wouldn't be inaccurate to credit these lines simply to space limitation rather than the quality of John's products. But a comic-sans printed sign outside the door advertises what is likely the biggest draw: $1.50 scoops (the $0.50 handwritten and appended to the bold red $1). In an age and place where you can shell out $6 for a single scoop at "artisanal" ice cream parlors (glares at Smitten), anything under $3 is essentially unheard of. And even if you take into account the price of a pint of good quality ice cream at the supermarket (around $5 for 4 servings), the economics of a $1.50 scoop, cone included, become even more impressive. Despite months of passing this shop, I never gave it any thought, but one day, I decided to look into it and found that it has some more interesting flavor offerings, including ube and pandan. So on my way back from the Bart, I decided that $1.50 was a small price to pay to try a scoop of Ube ice cream from John's. With an unreal purple color and exceptionally generous portion, the Ube ice cream is otherwise not particularly remarkable. It's starchy and does actually taste like a faintly sweet potato, but the texture is not very smooth, and I did come across several chunks (whether they were ice or pieces of ube, I can't be certain as, either way, they were flavorless). So, when it comes down to it, John's doesn't deliver flavor-wise, but with its central location in Downtown Berkeley, its insanely low prices, and decent variety of flavors, from the mundane to the more exotic, it doesn't really matter – the lines will persist. 2.5/5.0

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