Opening its doors last week, Yo-Chi’s vivid neon sign and crisp white interior has already garnered a lot of attention. Simply standing at the threshold of this new yogurt bar in Balaclava will have you awash with feelings of curiosity. Turn left to see a rainbow neon sign, straight ahead to stare into the eyes of a giant cartoon koala or, most interestingly, look straight ahead and let your eyes rest on the kaleidoscope of self-serve toppings waiting temptingly in the centre of the room.

Co-owners Manny Stul and Jason Solomon are on a mission to create the highest quality yogurt store in the world. The result is a welcoming place with a social conscience. Produce is locally sourced, low in fat and even the cutlery is biodegradable.

Yo-Chi is inspired by the many incarnations of yogurt bars that are growing in popularity across the globe and is entirely self-serve. The process is simple: select a size, fill with your yogurt flavour of choice and adorn with any number of seasonal toppings. Yogurt flavours are rotated seasonally and range from chai and mixed berry to coconut. The signature blend is honey soybean and there are 22 toppings to choose from.

Be warned, this help yourself concept can lead to severe eyes-bigger-than-stomach syndrome. Toppings like caramelised pineapple and chocolate-covered goji berries will have you adding more and more (just don’t forget all these toppings are priced by weight).

Those who know their downward dog from their tree pose will know the benefits of maintaining a healthy inner wellbeing or ‘chi’ and will appreciate the quality of the yogurt product itself. Stul is the proprietor of a certified organic farm and a strict vegetarian, so you know the produce is up to scratch.

“We wanted to create a product people could believe in – one that was natural, healthy, free from artificial nasties and provided options for those seeking low in fat, no dairy or no gluten alternatives,” says Stul.

Just as the yogurt and its accompaniments are of the highest quality, so too is the space itself. The inviting interior comes courtesy of the team at Projects of Imagination, the creative minds behind venues such as Golden Fields, St Edmonds and Chin Chin. Their trademark quirk permeates the bar, where nothing is accidental and even the tiniest detail has been carefully considered.

For example, the aforementioned Yo-Chi Koala statue, which stands poised with giant spoon and Yo-Chi cup in hand, is regarded as the “overseer of yogurt delight”.

“We wanted a space that invited our customers to enjoy, mingle and feel comfortable to stay a while,” says Stul.

With customers already lining up for a guilt-free dessert, it would seem local ice cream stores might be given a run for their money.

292 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
(03) 9527 7001

Daily 11am-11pm