Monthly Archives: April 2019

It’s SweetSnow Not Sweets now

The concept of Sweet Snow was the answer to the question we often ask ourselves, “what’s next?”

Meet Cathi Kim. For ten years, she worked in the fashion industry, specifically in designer denim. She travelled all over the country as well as outside of it. Because she wanted to do something different, her tenth year in the fashion industry saw her quit her job, move to Paris, and enroll in a pastry class there since she already had a love for baking and cooking. After six months abroad, she came back to Valencia and, at the urging of a couple of friends, a cupcake shop called Velvet Cupcakes. The cupcake store was a success, with a second location opened at the Westfield mall in Sherman Oaks. However, her partners decided to sell the business.This, of course, left Cathi with the question that’s driven most of her decisions: “what’s next?”. Hence, Sweet Snow came to fruition

“It’s Sweet Snow not Sweets now,” Cathi laughs as she narrates the story behind the name.  “I wanted something that described our product:  it’s cold and it’s sweet.”  You add the polar bear logo and it catches the attention of an unsuspecting passerby and possibly future customer.

As owner and proprietor of this popular dessert place in Northridge, Cathi brings to the table something both familiar and new: a Taiwanese dessert with flavored blocks of ice, shaved in the style of the Hawaiian shaved ice but with the choice of toppings reminiscent of a frozen yogurt store.  The result of this amalgamation of elements is what the Sweet Snow regulars keep on coming back to.

“There really wasn’t anything like this in the valley.  The closest is probably Blockheads Shavery in Los Angeles.”, she shares, “I definitely wanted Asian flavors like taro, green tea, and black sesame as well as fruity flavors, mango, strawberry.”

When Sweet Snow opened its doors in June 2013, one of the largest customer-base were Filipinos.   As a savy business woman, she decided to contact the owner of Ninong’s, a popular Filipino restaurant in the area. 

“The owner’s so sweet too.  She makes those ube cookies.  So, I said, I want those cookies as a   topping at my store. And she said, I think that’s a great idea!”  Of course, it was a match made in heaven since the Sweet Snow named one of its specialties, Ninong’s Special—taro ice base, almonds, mochi, sweet red bean, ube cookies, topped with condensed milk.

Ms. Kim’s philosophy of catering to her customers, knowing what they like, and making the product available added two more popular Filipino desserts to the menu: the Halo-Halo, a cold dessert of crushed iced, evaporated milk, red beans, ube, coconut jelly, pinipig rice, and jackfruit topped with a scoop of ube ice cream, and leche flan; and the Mais Con Yelo, whole kernel corn with shaved ice, and evaporated milk. Both desserts are served with the Sweet Snow spin.

Sweet Snow serves a dessert that is truly unique.  The flavored ice blocks are shaved into a creamy consistency that just melts in your mouth.  Add that with multitude of toppings available and you have the perfect contrast to the creamy consistency.  Surprisingly, this dessert is not overwhelmingly sweet.  It hits that perfect note of sweetness.

In addition, they also sell macaroons and ice cream cookies.  Their top three ice cream cookies are the Fruity Pebbles, Ube, and Cookies n’ Cream.

This June, Sweet Snow will be celebrating its sixth year. When asked what the future holds , Cathi responds, “Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t see opening a second location any time soon. But, I’m always open to possibilities.”

Sweet Snow is located at 9420 Reseda Blvd., Suite 7, Northridge, CA 91324.  Hours of operations are Monday through Sunday 12pm – 10pm.

Hirosa Sushi: A Family Affair

Hirosa Sushi’s story begins with the corner stone of any society:  family.

Thirty years ago, chef and owner Gilberto Cruz migrated from Mexico to the San Fernando Valley as a teenager.  The only place willing to hire him was a newly established restaurant in the city of Chatsworth known as Omino Sushi.  The owner of Omino Sushi took young Gilberto under his wing and taught him to cook everything from nigiri to sukiyaki.  Since then, Japanese cuisine became a huge part of the Cruz’s family life.

“Since the day my siblings and I were born, Japanese food was a part of our lives.  As a result, we often joked about my dad and our family opening a restaurant.”, Gilberto’s son, Gilberto Jr. reminisces.

In 2017, the owners of Omino Sushi sold the restaurant to new management.  This gave Chef Cruz the push to open a restaurant of his own.  Through persistence and some luck, he was able to procure the space (formerly occupied by a thai restaurant) across from Skateland in Northridge at an affordable price.

On November 3rd, 2017, Hirosa Sushi opened its doors to the public.  Chef Cruz’s dream was now a reality.  Along with his wife and co-chef Angelica, he brings to bear all the knowledge and skills he learned from almost three decades of working at Omino Sushi.  His son, Gilberto Cruz, Jr along with his siblings and sister-in-law, manage the day to day operations of the restaurant.

“We believe that the defining characteristic of the restaurant is our menu.  We like to stick to the traditional Japanese taste, and as a result we do like to feature some lesser known dishes such as Sukiyaki or Nasumiso.  We don’t even have a sushi bar, which is often times not received well, but as I said we like to do things different,” quips Gilberto Jr., “If you don’t do things different, then it’s hard for you to be recognized and remembered.”

Chef Cruz and his family believe that good service and good experiences go hand in hand with being genuine.  This is how customers are greeted and treated as they enter the restaurant, like an old friend or a part of the family.  Because his children grew up enjoying the items offered on Hirosa’s menu, seeing customers enjoy it as much as they did is a one-of-a- kind experience for his family.

When you walk through the doors of Hirosa Sushi, you are instantly met with an atmosphere, both familiar and comfortable.  The space is cozy and reminiscent of having a meal at a family member’s house.  Their menu offers a variety of appetizers, rolls and Japanese dishes such as tempura, sashimi, sesame chicken, beef sukiyaki, and spicy tuna cakes.  One crowd favorite is the creamy roll, an eight piece chopped salmon marinated in one of the restaurant’s secret sauces, delicious to the last bite.  Imagine if a Philadelphia roll having a love child with onions and garlic.  Their dinner combinations, especially the sashimi, tempura, and chicken teriyaki, can feed at least two adults, and one child.  But don’t let the generous portions fool you.  Each item is tastier than the next, the tempura–a crispy mix of shrimp and vegetables, the chicken teriyaki—crispy on the outside yet juicy and tender on the inside, the sauce the right balance of sweet and savory, and of course, the sashimi—fresh and lightly seasoned.

Beer, sake, and wine are also available to enjoy alongside their amazing dishes.  They also serve tempura ice cream and mochi ice cream as dessert options.

With amazing feedback and an outpouring of support from the 818 community, Hirosa Sushi and the Cruz family hope to serve even more people and increase the offerings on their menu.  Ultimately, their goal is to have their Japanese food style as a staple for the San Fernando Valley.

Hirosa Sushi is located at 18157 Parthenia St., Northridge, CA 91325. They are open Monday – Friday 11am – 2pm and 4pm – 9pm, Saturday 3pm – 10pm, and Sunday 3pm – 9pm. Menu items range from $5 to $20.