Matcha Lovers Rejoice! This Yummy Soft Serve Stand is a First-Class Trip to Kyoto
Matcha Café Maiko in Waikīkī makes extraordinary soft serve from premium Japanese green tea.
Photos: Maria Kanai
One of my favorite summer memories is my mother and I visiting my grandmother in Uji, a small city in Kyoto prefecture known for exceptional green tea. We would walk from the train station to my grandma’s house, and eat a refreshing matcha soft serve dusted with fine green tea powder.
It’s been five years since I’ve been to Uji, and so going to Matcha Café Maiko to try its famous soft serve from Kyoto was worth a trip to Waikīkī. The stand opened this past July, and all of its products are shipped from Kyoto’s Harima Garden, a garden dedicated to making healthy organic green tea without the use of pesticides. The high-grade matcha leaves are kept out of sunlight so the leaves are thinner and softer, with a fuller flavor which make them perfect for matcha tea … or for matcha soft serves.
Hojicha latte ($4.90).
Street parking is your best bet. We were lucky enough to find a stall on Seaside Avenue. Note: Matcha Café Maiko is a takeout spot, so you’ll have to eat the fast-melting soft serve standing outside, or risk sitting nearby on bird-speckled seats near the bus stop. Our recommendation? Walk over to the International Market Place, where there are fancier seats, plenty of people to watch and other shops to check out.
The MATCHA FLOAT ($6.50).
The stand offers drinks, soft serve cones, parfaits and shave ice. Our cashier said the matcha float ($6.50) is popular. We got the vanilla-and-matcha soft serve mix; the creamy vanilla is also worth a try, pairing well with the icy cold green tea. A customer in front of us ordered just a vanilla soft serve which we guess is an option if you’re not a matcha fan (heinous!). Other options include the hojicha latte ($4.90), earthy and slightly bitter, the roasted green tea mixed with the sweeter crème makes an unusual drink.
The matcha special ($7.80).
Its most popular item is the matcha special ($7.80): an indulgent, Asian-inspired parfait with matcha soft serve, which is milder and not as sweet as Lappert’s or Häagen-Dazs, with plenty of concentrated, authentic green tea flavor. We loved the fancy Japanese toppings: shiratama, matcha chiffon cake, water chestnut, jelly, azuki beans and cornflakes. It tasted just like home, without a plane ride or train trip.
2310 Kūhiō Ave., #143, 369-8031