Grom's Ratanak Joed Kong Lets You Taste As Much As You Want

Ratanak

What's your favorite flavor?Photo: Melissa Hom

Nine months ago, Ratanak Joed Kong mastered the flat scoop at Grom on the Upper West Side. ("You have to make it round yourself," he explains.) Now he mans the gelateria's new location, on Bleecker Street. Considering that Rob and Robin declared Grom's gelato the best in the south Village this week, we checked in with Kong to find out what's really in the gelato, his feelings on Pinkberry, and the etiquette of tasting. Alexandra Vallis

What are the most popular flavors?
Crema di Grom, which is our signature flavor, the stracciatella, and probably the hazelnut, which is my favorite.

How often do you eat gelato? Have you gained any weight?
Every day during my break. I do work out a little bit. At the same time, gelato's not really fattening.

Do people ask for calories?
The crema di Grom has probably 170 or 180 calories. Our flavors range from 120 to 180, for a small.

Do you ever try to get dates with customers?
Not me, but I do have co-workers who do that. The scoopers will say, "You want to try my favorite flavor?"

Do you get any celebrities? Can they cut the line?
On 76th, we get Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World [William Daniels.]. In the West Village, we get Jean Grey from X-Men [Famke Janssen]. They're just regular people. They get in line, and they wait.

Do you feel threatened by the Pinkberrys?
Not at all; we have really good gelato. If you know about Grom and you know how it tastes, you'll definitely get Grom rather than getting Pinkberry.

What's makes gelato different from ice cream?
The gelato we use, it's made with milk and it's made with less air, so it has more of a creamy texture, rather than ice cream, which is heavy on the cream and more fattening. Three to four flavors have eggs, but not all.

Will Grom open another store?
Pretty soon they're gonna open another one. I heard at Rockefeller Center, but I am not sure.

Do you have limit on giving away tastes?
No, there's no limit.

How many tastes does it take to get you annoyed?
If you have a good conversation with a customer, letting them know what flavor is good and offering your favorite flavor, it doesnt get annoying. But if you have a customer who keeps asking for another taste and another taste, it tends to get annoying after the sixth taste. They'll taste and they'll buy something that they don't taste. "I'll get my usual. I'll just get this."