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Chuao Chocolatier, San Diego


jschyun
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This place has been written up as an awesome chocolate place. I happened to be in Del Mar to eat at the very well hidden Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I had some time to kill after dinner, so I went to Encinitas in search of Chuao Chocolatier.

I ordered the 9 piece box and basically filled it with an assortment. I would normally get one or two of everything, but for some reason, I didn't this time. Good choice. When we got home, half of the pieces were filled with an inexplicable grittiness. Also, the flavors were muted, although they do use dark chocolate, el rey. Somehow it tasted harsh and not very good. The only really good piece was their nutella piece. They think they're being very innovative by putting all sorts of weird spices and teas in their chocolate pieces, but in my opinion, they couldn't pull it off.

However, I did get a box of the fruit pates (10 for $6.50 I think). They were quite good. Softer somehow than usual. Lush against the tongue. Unfortunately, they only have 2 flavors.

All in all, not worth a drive to San Diego. But if you're in the area, can you buy me a box of fruit pates and I'll pay you back?

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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  • 1 year later...

Valentine’s Day is coming up and IMO, the perfect gift to give is Chuao chocolate’s PARCHITA, a tiny heart shaped chocolate filled with passion fruit caramel. How perfect is that … hearts and passion fruit. Not as perfect as the taste.

This really is the signature chocolate. I don’t even like passion fruit, but his was a revelation. Bite into the little heart and soft liquid caramel spills onto your tongue. Wait a beat at there is a tart passion fruit flavor.

Based in San Diego, you can buy Chuao chocolates in both Northern and Southern California, as well as by mail order. This link will give you the locations.

I agree with Jschln that not all Chuao chocolate is equal. Some is better, to me, than others. However, if all they made was that parchita, it would be enough. Chuao is pricy. I have tried most of them and my impression of them is below in order of preference. There is also a B list that I would avoid.

Last week I stopped by the Palo Alto shop to see if Chuao was as good as in the original Encinitas shop where you can watch the chocolates being made. It was. They were out of the parchita (sob), but I had the Chevere and a flavor I had not seen before, Spicy Mayan. This little square was what I love about Chuao. There is the initial bite and then other flavors make themselves know. I bit into the Spicy Mayan and thought, “Nice chocolate. Where’s the spice?” Then, a few seconds later the chili introduced itself to my tongue. I don’t know how they do that.

They also make two types of Venezuelan hot chocolate. One is the regular, the other is spiced with chili.

This was a review in the San Diego Union Tribute when Chuao opened. It gives a little background on the chocolate. More reviews are on the website. Not that that means much. There is a lot of upscale chocolate that win universal acclaim and I would not eat it for free.

Detailed descriptions of each choclate, along with pictures are on the Chuao website.

WOULD BUY OR GIVE AS GIFTS (in order of preference).

CHEVERE: who would have thought that goat cheese, pear Williams butter cream and crushed black pepper corns would be this good. Like tangy chocolate cheesecake,

CAMBUR: Banana and brown sugar caramel … mmmm …. You would think more chocolate makers would combine banana and chocolate.

PICANTE: I never imagined raisin, cabernet caramel, spiced up with pasilla chili and cayenne pepper could be such a winning combination

ZEN: I contemplated the lovely white chopped ginger. Missed the tea flavor, but it didn’t matter.

MELAO: A salt butter caramel with the salt enhancing the soft caramel interior. .

MARACA: macadamia nuts, dark caramel, rum these flavors really worked well together and complemented the dark chocolate coating.

GRAN CACAO: I Wondered what 73% cocoa chocolate meant. It’s almost like chocolate liqueur it is so rich. Really, it tastes alcoholic, but it’s not.

HONEY TRUFFLE: Cream orange blossom honey ganache thin dark choclate shell, coated with powdered sugar … lovely. ,

MULATO: almond marzipan and fine pieces of roasted macadamia nuts just was tasty. The bronze glitter would make a nice presentation at a dinner party. Very elegant.

MIGHT BUY AGAIN TO ROUND OUT A GIFT BOX, BUT MY OWN B LIST.

COCO CANELLE: Upscale almond joy. A whole roasted almond covered with soft coconut flakes blended with a touch of cinnamon

ALMOND TRUFFLE: A center of chocolate hazelnut and almond praline dipped in Venezuelan milk chocolate. I loved the roasted almond and pistachio slices covering the truffle. The ground almond.hazelnut center was lost by the assertive coating and just seemed gritty.

CACIQUE: Rum/raisin flavored, but much too subtle. There was the tiniest hint of rum in the after taste,.

GRIGNOTTINES: Just not as good as the description. Roasted and caramelized almond slivers, mixed with finely chopped pistachios and orange peel, blended together with dark Venezuelan chocolate

NOCCELLO: I’m just not a hazelnut fan.

FRAMBOISE: This is just me. I’m not a fan of “Pate de Fruit",. No matter how excellent, they just remind me of the chocolate jelly candies in my childhood Whitman sampler. The candies people would take a bite out of and put back in the box. This is very good, but not for a tasteless creature such as myself.

LE CITRON: Ok, but the lemon pulp blended in a soft caramel with fresh mint infused cream was too subtle for my tastes.

CARDAMON: Not a cardamon fan

MODENA: Another description that didn’t match the taste caramel deglazed with strawberry pulp and balsamic vinegar from modena.

TIRAMISU: This is the only one that was really off target for me. I would have said German chocolate cake rather than tiramisu. Mascarpone cheese and coffee liquor

DIDN’T TRY

MUSIU: Creamy filling spiced with cinnamon and a touch of grand Marnier covered with Venezuelan dark chocolate.

GIANDUJA: Hazelnut and almond paste enhanced with fresh vanilla and a hint of coffee, covered in Venezuelan milk chocolate.

MOROCHO: One layer of almond and hazelnut praline paste; one layer of dark chocolate butter cream with a hint of Calvados, covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate.

RIO CARIBE: Artisan made almond and hazelnut praline covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate.

WILD TRUFFLE: A dark rich ganache dipped in dark Venezuelan chocolate and delicately rolled in cocoa powder.

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Oh geez, you found the original post and everything. Okay, I admit I am embarrassed. I've been to Chuao in Encinitas and the shop in University Town Ctr (I think that's what that mall is called) many a time since then. I have to admit, I mainly go there to clean them out of all their parchitas, in fact, it's the only reason I've ever gone to Encinitas. I still can't get excited about anything else though, maybe I shouldn't eat that damn heart every time. Maybe it's clouding my judgment. Okay next time, aagh, no caramel passionfruit heart.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Gosh, the weekend I was in SoCal for my Mother's funeral (last October), I made a point of heading down to Chuao and picking up their biggest assortment box (24 pieces?). While not quite as delicate as Rechiuti, I enjoyed the variety and odd flavor varieties (except for the Goat Cheese one). Maybe I got a good production lot or maybe, experiencing the other loss, I just enjoyed something for sake of wanting to enjoy it.

I had intended to go back (there is this pastry shop right next door that had a line out the door!) to the Encinitas store, but perhaps my money will be better spent mail-ordering those Vosges I've been craving...

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You know, the first time I went to Chuao, I didn't even try the parchita. I thought the few that I tried merited a second trip. If you didn't like the variety the first time, I would just stick with the parchita. If you notice my B list, some of those have the gritty taste you described.

I would suggest the bannana chocolate though. and the picante at the top of my to try list. Yeah, especially the picante. I've been thinking about the goat cheese chocolate that I liked so much the first time. Unfortunatley I wolfed it down this time. I didn't pick up the nuacnes that I did the first time. You have to take your time with Chauo. Oh, well, I guess I'll need to visit the shop again.

They sell cups of hot chocolate at the shop. If you like spicy try the Mayan. I do have to say about the San Diego area, there was a lot of good hot chocolate because of all the Mexican restaurants.

Have you been to Juanitas tacos in Encinitas? Little joint, but great tacos. The beef taco that has a deep fried shell is the best. Juanita is famous for her carnitas, so I recommend that as well. Everything except tje beef is served on soft tacos. They also make their own ... I forget the name ... that carrot/onion/jalepeno condiment. Not everything is great here, but I can vouch for those. If I ever get back to that area, one of the first things I would buy is that beef taco. Now I've built it up too much. It can only be a let down.

You've probably been to Especial del Norte for the soup, but the the Chicken Mole Poblano is better than any of the soups. Two whole chicken legs covered with a beautiful and tasty mole sauce. There is another chicken mole dish. You want the Poblano. I saw the Spanish people in the restaurant ordering this and it was very good.

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Have you been to Juanitas tacos in Encinitas? Little joint, but great tacos. The beef taco that has a deep fried shell is the best. Juanita is famous for her carnitas, so I recommend that as well. Everything except tje beef is served on soft tacos. They also make their own ... I forget the name ... that carrot/onion/jalepeno condiment. Not everything is great here, but I can vouch for those. If I ever get back to that area, one of the first things I would buy is that beef taco. Now I've built it up too much. It can only be a let down.

You've probably been to Especial del Norte for the soup, but the  the Chicken Mole Poblano is better than any of the soups. Two whole chicken legs covered with a beautiful and tasty mole sauce.  There is another chicken mole dish. You want the Poblano. I saw the Spanish people in the restaurant ordering this and it was very good.

Actually, no. I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food and having grown up in Oceanside, when my parents wanted Mexican, we went to Anitas on PCH (then Hill Street). It has been there over 30 years and has become an institution down there. Later, while attending San Diego State, there was an occasional dash across the border for grilled lobster or fish tacos, but that's about it. (Allergic to raw tomatoes, can't stand cilantro - hence no salsa for this white chick).

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They sell cups of hot chocolate at the shop. If you like spicy try the Mayan. I do have to say about the San Diego area, there was a lot of good hot chocolate because of all the Mexican restaurants.

Have you been to Juanitas tacos in Encinitas? Little joint, but great tacos. The beef taco that has a deep fried shell is the best. Juanita is famous for her carnitas, so I recommend that as well. Everything except tje beef is served on soft tacos. They also make their own ... I forget the name ... that carrot/onion/jalepeno condiment. Not everything is great here, but I can vouch for those. If I ever get back to that area, one of the first things I would buy is that beef taco. Now I've built it up too much. It can only be a let down.

You've probably been to Especial del Norte for the soup, but the  the Chicken Mole Poblano is better than any of the soups. Two whole chicken legs covered with a beautiful and tasty mole sauce.  There is another chicken mole dish. You want the Poblano. I saw the Spanish people in the restaurant ordering this and it was very good.

Actually, I have never eaten anywhere in Encinitas except for Chuao Chocolatier and one time when they were closed, I ate at the gelato shop next door in desperation and hunger. Yeah, the shop in that University Ctr has drinks and stuff. I have tunnel vision and ignored the drinks, thanks for the tip maybe I'll try them. I basically get an assortment of whatever is in the case when I arrive, with extra caramel passionfruit hearts. The other one that I like is the salted caramel piece, Melao in your list. Odd because I don't think I'm a huge caramel fan but well *shrug*.

I'm not a big fan of choc covered jellies either. I like jellies and I like chocolate but not together necessarily. I mean, I probably won't turn them down though.

I can't think of any Los Angeles shops that carry Chuao chocolates. I guess Palo Alto is a lot like that area in SD, so that's why they carry them?

--I have to say, it's been 6 months since I've been here and I have never taken notes so I'll have to comment in another 6 months on what I consistently like, when I go again. I go to SD in the summer.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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  • 1 year later...

Has anyone been down to the Chuao Chocolatier in Irvine or San Diego? I just had an ice blended chocolate drink at the Irvine Spectrum that was so freaking good. It was maybe the best I've ever had. Good quality chocolate as expected, but I think they use true vanilla beans as well. A full chocolate-y experience that's better than any mocha or chocolate drink I've tasted. I'm not into the hard chocolate though. I've a couple of their pieces with very unique spicy flavors. Unfortunately, I don't think the Irvine location is doing so well from my impression from looking at the bored cashier and the one other customer.

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I haven't been there, but I received a large assortment of their chocolates/truffles as a gift. :smile: They are good chocolates, if a little rustic in appearance. Shells are quite thick, and the fillings are a little sweet for me.

The way you describe that chocolate drink makes me want one NOW! :biggrin:

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I like the spicy hot chocolate drink best of all their hot chocolates. I've never had the ice blended, good to know. Of the chocolates, most of my recipients seem to like the passionfruit caramel. The name of this piece always escapes me. For some reason, I like this one piece that tastes like a fancy raisinet.

Chuao isn't my favoritest chocolate shop of all time, but hey it's in Irvine.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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I've taken the chocolate making classes at their flagship store in Encinitas.  Here's the link to Chuao Chocolates.  I think the class information is under the "SHOP" heading. 

The classes were a lot of fun.

I've taken the classes, as well. Definitely worthwhile.

Turnover at the Irvine location is very poor compared to the Encinitas location and has made me avoid shopping there more and more. I'll have to drop in to try the ice blended, though.

At any rate, looks like the Spectrum hordes prefer Rocky Mountain.

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Turnover at the Irvine location is very poor compared to the Encinitas location and has made me avoid shopping there more and more. I'll have to drop in to try the ice blended, though.

At any rate, looks like the Spectrum hordes prefer Rocky Mountain.

Agreed. Kind of a shame.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Turnover at the Irvine location is very poor compared to the Encinitas location and has made me avoid shopping there more and more. I'll have to drop in to try the ice blended, though.

At any rate, looks like the Spectrum hordes prefer Rocky Mountain.

Agreed. Kind of a shame.

Very shameful, but understandable as the spectrum crowd is pretty young, and Chuao is pretty expensive. But moreover, the location is awful. It's at the very far and very deserted end of the entertainment complex.

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  • 11 months later...

Chuao has got some new frappe flavors, some based on their chocolates. From the newsletter:

No. 73 -- for the true dark chocolate junky

Zero -- white chocolate

Melao -- caramel and chocolate

Spicy -- with a kick

Zen -- green tea, ginger and chocolate

Cambur -- banana-caramel and chocolate

I tried the Melao and liked it quite a bit -- tasted very much like the actual caramel inside the bonbon. I'll have to try the Zen and Cambur next. I've had the Zero and enjoyed it as well, even though I'm not a huge white chocolate fan. The only problem was that the chilled chocolate coated my tongue, but it wasn't that bothersome.

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