Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

Jade Chocolates Tile

Warm up in the Richmond


A trip to Jade Chocolates gives us a chance to try unusual chocolate & spice combinations

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[UPDATE September 2020: This location has closed.]

On our latest trek to our dentist in the Richmond District, Cacaopod & I stopped by Jade Chocolates (conveniently located next to our bus stop at Geary & 6th Ave.), to see what’s new and stock up on their Southeast-Asian inspired chocolates.

Jade Chocolates Tiles
The variety of Jade Chocolates tiles on our recent visit included an interesting range of tropical fruits, nuts, seeds, spices and herbs.

Mindy Fong, Jades’ owner & head chocolatier, did not disappoint and had a new line of chocolate tiles, which she is experimenting with by topping dark chocolate with a variety of tropical fruits, nuts, seeds, spices and herbs.

When we visited, she had 10 varieties, ranging from a simple Toasted Cacao Nibs with Smoked Sea Salt to the unusual herb combination of Ajwain & Sumac. Mindy said that ajwain is described as tasting similar to anise (licorice), but it’s different. It’s currently her favorite flavor that she’s experimenting with.

Reminds me of…

To me, ajwain tasted more like caraway than licorice, more savory than sweet, and made me think of rye bread or roast beef on weck (a childhood-in-Buffalo reference to sandwiches made with rolls that are sprinkled with salt & caraway seeds, which supposedly can’t be made anywhere else). Cacaopod said it reminded him of Indian spice mixes. Mindy said it reminded her of the after-dinner candy/seed mix offered at most Indian restaurants. It is unusual, and I’ll be interested to see what she does with this unexpected flavoring.

The fruit options — Pineapple Black Pepper, Banana Walnut, Apricot Cumin, Ginger, and Chili Lime Dusted Mango — reminded me of fruit dipped in chocolate, but most had an added spice twist to make them more interesting. I especially liked the chili lime mango tile.

Of the nut/seed options — Pumpkin Curry & Fleur de Sel, Macadamia Black Lava Salt, Pistachio & Pink Peppercorn — I liked the pumpkin-seed-studded tile best, which was spicy (and seemed slightly anise-y too) and not sweet. In fact, on the whole, the tiles are not very sweet. If you find most chocolates too sweet, I recommend that you check out Jade for less sweet options that are more interesting than straight-up high cacao bars.

Cold-fighting chocolate

The less-sweet theme extended to Jade’s hot chocolates too. I don’t often drink chocolate because it’s usually so sweet and rich that it makes me nauseous, but when Mindy suggested we try one of her 15 kinds of hot chocolate, I was game.

Cacaopod & I were both battling colds, and I had just read about the study by the Imperial College of London that claims to prove chocolate is more effective than codeine. With that in mind, it seemed right to have chocolate that was warm to aid our over-taxed immune systems.

With an eye to the medicinal, I picked the China Red Pepper hot chocolate; Cacaopod got the Ginger hot chocolate. Mindy makes the drinks to order. In addition to the red pepper, mine had cinnamon and smoky chilis, so it had a nice heat that felt good on my throat and a more complex taste than just peppery. Cacaopod’s Ginger drink had a nice balance between the chocolate and ginger bite.

The hot chocolates are thick and smooth and very Jade: not too sweet Asian-influenced combinations. If these flavors don’t spark your interest, the list of 15 flavors range from dark spicy drinks like Mint, Tumeric & Black Pepper, Cardamom, and Saigon Cinnamon, to green tea & chocolate combos, a tropical fruit choice, and 2 white chocolate drinks.

Next time I plan to try the Thai Red Curry on Mindy’s recommendation (and San Francisco Magazine). She said the hot chocolates are some of her most popular items, and she has regular patrons who come only for the hot chocolate. It makes sense: the Richmond is usually cool, so even in summer hot chocolate is a reasonable drink if you’re strolling around the neighborhood — or headed to the beach at the end of Geary.

Alas, this time we were just waiting for the bus to head back home, but the cup of warm chocolate was perfect to make me feel better and give me an extra kick to stand up to the commuter crush that is BART during rush hour.

Jade Chocolates, 4207 Geary Blvd, is open Tues.–Sat., 11:30-7 (except Thurs., 11:30-6), and they are at the Clement St. Farmers Market Sun., 11–2.

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Published February 2, 2016