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East West Lifestyle

Hang & Eat: Melo Melo Puts the Mango in the Coconut

November 29, 2021
Melo Melo is a Los Angeles dessert place known for their coconut jelly puddings. (Photo credit): Melo Melo

Los Angeles dessert place Melo Melo specializes in coconut jellies that come in a colorful variety of flavors, from mango to matcha.

Bella Wang is on a mission to make coconut appeal to everyone. Wang, who was born in China and moved to the U.S. at the age of 11, has always loved dessert. Her passion for dessert and coconut is what drove her to open Melo Melo.

When the first Melo Melo opened in the city of San Gabriel in Southern California back in 2018, there was no other dessert place like it at the time. Named after her cat, Melo Melo has since become a highly successful dessert business. Wang now has four Melo Melo stores spread throughout the Los Angeles region, but she also offers group delivery to farther cities in Southern California and Northern California and even to major cities out of state like Seattle, New York, Las Vegas, Chicago.

Melo Melo is all about that coconut jelly pudding. The staff use freshly opened coconuts for its water and add in milk to make a jelly/pudding dessert. The texture is a bit different than what people would typically consider jello or pudding. The texture is reminiscent of soft tofu or douhua, a popular Chinese dessert. What makes Melo Melo desserts unique is its light, silky, and refreshing taste. Wang is dedicated to sourcing seasonal fruits to accompany her coconut puddings, so the menu is constantly rotating depending on what fruits are freshest.

Melo Melo’s fresh fruit coconut jelly desserts. (Photo credit): Melo Melo

Coconut is rich in important minerals like manganese and copper, and high in fiber, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Wang uses fresh coconuts imported straight from Thailand and boasts that the primary ingredients used in all the deserts consist of fresh coconut water and milk.

“Nothing is diluted with water,” she says proudly.

Coconut can be polarizing to some, but Wang made it her mission to change these people’s minds. “A lot of people don’t like coconut in general. I want to make something they will fall in love with even if they don’t like coconut—this was the catalyst for Melo Melo,” says Wang.

Melo Melo’s red bean, chocolate, and matcha coconut puddings. (Photo credit): Melo Melo

It seems like her hard work is paying off.

Katharine Yung, who says both she and her husband are big fans of Melo Melo, had this to say: “They’re not too sweet, fruits are fresh, the fact that you can have something sweet after a meal and not feel so guilty about it because it's so light. Also, we love that they have unique flavors or combos (like the Oreo mochi or strawberry mochi) that similar competitors do not have. They just have way more variety. Plus, we reuse the jars for snacks.”

But it’s not just the coconut desserts that bring the crowds. Every Melo Melo store is aesthetically pleasing with their blush pink walls and modern design. Guests visit for the highly Instagrammable backgrounds and cute packaging, just as much as they do for the actual desserts. Die-hard fans have even made a hobby of collecting Melo Melo jars and repurposing them. Melo Melo even started a recycling program where you can trade in 10 jars to get a free dessert.

Guests can watch as staff take young coconut flesh, puree it, and make it into a silky jelly paired with another ingredient like mango, taro, matcha, etc. For example, the matcha signature coconut jelly comes with a side of sweet red bean. For mango lovers, the mango coconut jelly has hefty chunks of mango fruit, tapioca, and mango juice all mixed into the coconut jelly base. The dragon fruit jelly comes with big chunks of dragon fruit. The taro flavor uses real mashed taro, as well. The strawberry dodo uses strawberry purée with the seeds of the strawberry in it.

Melo Melo’s popular mango coconut jelly. (Photo credit): Melo Melo

Although flavors like chocolate and coconut oatmeal that are a permanent part of the menu, there are many seasonal fan favorites. Some seasonal flavors include: golden kiwi, yellow dragon fruit, strawberry puree, purple yam, peach, and papaya, among others. For this past Halloween and fall, Melo Melo released a limited edition pumpkin coconut jelly that was filled with house-made pumpkin puree and topped with sprinkled brown sugar. The signature coconut jelly base alone is a hit even without the bells and whistles of the additional flavors because of how silky the pudding is. They even have a new dairy-free option.

With that uptick in long-haul deliveries, Wang has plans to scale back a bit in the coming year to focus on opening more Melo Melo stores. Fans are lining up and ready to sing its praises.

“I love the quality and freshness of it,” says Angela Hoang, a fan of Melo Melo. “The texture of it is so silky smooth. It's a bit on the pricey side, but I don't mind it because of the quality. The flavors are so great and not too sweet. Also it comes in those little jars, so it looks beautiful too.”

Hang & Eat with our food blogger Kristie Hang as she tries out the latest East West food trends. East West Bank serves as a cultural and financial bridge between the U.S. and China.