Female-Founded, Plant-Based Dear Bella Creamery Owners On Taiwanese Heritage and the One Flavor L.A.'s Not Ready For

Welcome to 10 Questions, a weekly series that explores L.A. through the eyes of its coolest citizens.

Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
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Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery
Photo: Courtesy of Dear Bella Creamery

L.A.'s everyday-is-a-beach-day weather almost forces us to make ice cream its own food group. One of its top dessert destinations, Dear Bella Creamery – situated in an easily overlooked mini-mall in Hollywood – tops our list when we get the craving for something sweet, vegan, and healthy.

The creamery's Taiwanese-American co-founders Belinda Wei and Alice Cherng have taken plant-based ice cream to the next level – prioritizing high-quality ingredients, eclectic and Taiwanese-inspired flavors, and animal and environmental stewardship. They also hold off on the artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils that make normal ice cream bad for you.

Dear Bella Creamery's all-natural approach to the timeless American tradition elicits a balanced sweet and savory flavor profile that pulls back on the amount of sugar needed and allows each ingredient to shine on its own. All ice creams, fillings, and toppings are made from scratch and are gluten-free. House-made sauces include hot fudge, salted caramel, and magic shell while toppings and fillings range from chocolate-coated "honeecomb" (a must-try) and sunflower butter cups to slow-cooked raspberry jam. Among their winter flavors that we're most excited about include Italian butter cookie, red velvet cupcake, Taiwanese pineapple cake, gingerbread cookie, and hazelnut soft-serve.

And did we mention they offer sundaes, sammies, ice cream cakes, nitro cold brew floats, and kombucha? We're going to need a few minutes, brb, wiping our drool.

We caught up with Wei and Cherng to learn more about their Taiwanese background, Justin Timberlake, the flavor that best encapsulates L.A., and more as part of our weekly '10 Questions' series where we explore L.A. through the eyes of its coolest citizens.

What's your background? And if not delicious vegan treats, what inspired you to start Dear Bella Creamery?

Belinda: Growing up in Texas as a first-generation Taiwanese-American, I struggled to find a sense of belonging. Trips to the ice cream shop connected my family through conversation, which instilled in me a deep appreciation for shared meals. This early fascination with food led to me experimenting in the kitchen at an early age. I flourished at the Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena and also worked at kitchens across L.A., climbing the ranks from line cook to executive chef (with a specialty in pastries). I love experimenting with food, especially desserts, and using only clean, vegan ingredients.

Alice: Upon returning to Los Angeles after attending New York's Natural Kitchen Cooking School, I landed a role at Cafe Gratitude, where I worked as a hostess before becoming a restaurant manager. There, I formed my culinary ethos given that it's renowned for an emphasis on food as a source for physical and mental well-being. While she was at Cafe Gratitude, I crossed paths with Belinda and we instantly became friends. We created Dear Bella Creamery to fulfill the most imaginative cravings with better-for-you ingredients.

What songs or podcasts do you normally listen to while working?

Belinda: I like jamming out to dance/electronic, dubstep, lofi hip hop, funky jazz, classical, psychedelic rock and Latin vibes. My guilty pleasure is Justin Timberlake.
Alice: EDM or soft pop.

Are you vegan or do you have any dietary preferences?

Belinda: Yes, we are both vegan. I was inspired to become vegan for health reasons and because my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I was encouraged to look into different ways to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Alice: I became a vegetarian as a teenager to practice compassion as part of my Buddhist upbringing, then became vegan in my mid-20s as I learned more about nutrition. 

You're taking first-time visitors on a one-day tour of L.A. What are some of your tops spots and neighborhoods?

Both: Dear Bella Creamery, Crossroads, Sweet Veggie, Vegan Street Fair (if we can time it right), the Hollywood sign/Runyon, Venice Beach, Disneyland, The Echo, My Melody, The Grove, and Universal Studios.

What do you think is L.A.'s best-kept secret or most under-appreciated destination?

Both: San Gabriel Valley has one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia; it has some of the best Chinese food in the country and lots of hidden gems everywhere. It's where we feel the most at home outside of Taiwan. We'd recommend Vege Paradise, Lu's Garden, Sweet Veggie, Din Tai Fung, JTYH Restaurant, Thien Tam, Meet Fresh, and Haidilao Hot Pot.

Where have you traveled for the purpose of experiencing their cuisine and where would you like to go next?

Belinda: I went to Taiwan to visit family, also for food research. Bali is next on my list. 
Alice: I went to Thailand for their food, which was amazing; would love to go to Singapore next for their fusion Asian cuisine.

Who in your industry do you admire and what are they doing to have earned that place in your heart?

Both: Mollie Engelhart, the owner and chef of Sage Vegan Bistro, runs three large-scale vegan restaurants, all while raising three kids and operating a farm. We are always amazed at how much she is doing. We also love that she is constantly giving back to the community and standing for the rights of the under-served.

What vegan ice cream flavor would you say best encapsulates L.A.?

Both: Cookie Monsta because it's bold, so it grabs your attention, and it has a lot of things happening with two different types of cookies. It's flavorful and rich – just like l.A. – from the cookie butter ice cream base.

Who were your role models growing up and who are they today?

Belinda: The first person that comes to mind is my mother. There was a short period of time after she immigrated to Texas from Taiwan that she worked in the food industry at a local deli and barely spoke any English. She then started working the graveyard shift at the post office. I have a fond memory of always making her a cup of coffee, excitedly, just the way she liked it, before I would go to bed since that was when she woke up to get ready for work. Then, in the morning before my school started, she was home from work and in bed but somehow managed to have breakfast magically appear on the table, warm and ready for me to eat. And finally, after school, I would come home to her preparing a feast for dinner. These memories undoubtedly created the connection I made with food early on and constantly inspires me to want to recreate that for others. 

Alice: Growing up I wasn't exposed to many women in business or in the food industry. I immigrated with my family to the United States from Taiwan as a child. My mother was my greatest example of hard work and success. She transitioned from a housewife who could not speak English to an accounting manager in Los Angeles to provide for our family. She is the inspiration for me deciding to pursue a career in accounting – a path that naturally led me to have the confidence to run my own business.

What about Dear Bella are you most excited about in the next year or two?

Both: Currently we are more focused on and excited about bringing our concept to more people. Our goal is to open additional locations and expand our brand. We're entrepreneurs at heart, so we're always thinking of new ideas, the most recent being a Taiwanese-American vegan food pop-up. 

Quick bonus round!

Matcha, coffee, or tea?

Belinda: Matcha latte, hot from Peet's/Amp Coffee, or cold from Boba Guys.
Alice: Depending on the day, it's either going to be an oat milk half-caf latte or an iced unsweetened matcha latte.

Morning or night person?

Both: We are both night people. We're most productive between 10pm-2am

Favorite sweet treat?

Both: Taiwanese shaved ice, hands down.

What ice cream flavor is L.A. not ready for?

Both: Durian.

Scroll through the gallery above and check out the address below to give yourself some much-needed self-care via plant-based ice cream while the weather is still inviting you to. And don't forget to give Dear Bella Creamery a follow on the 'gram @dearbellacreamery for a daily dose of oddly satisfying ooey gooey goodness for your taste buds.

Dear Bella Creamery, 1253 Vine St. #12, L.A., 90038; open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight; (323) 848-4672

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