8 Top Spots For Soft Serve Desserts in Honolulu
It’s a swirl world after all.
This story was originally published in May 2019.
The hojicha, black sesame and matcha soft serve at Matcha Love.
PHOTO: MARTHA CHENG
Fro-yo or soft serve? In recent years, the pendulum has swung from the is-it-really-better-for-you frozen yogurt back to old-fashioned, small-kid-time soft serve. Well, sort of. Because back when we were kids, soft serve didn’t come in flavors like matcha and Earl Grey (the last thing we needed was extra caffeine), shoved down the throat of a fish waffle, nor was it made out of bananas.
Also bananas: how hot it’s been. So here are some of our favorite soft serve spots, because swirls just want to have fun.
This little kiosk, from the green tea and drinks giant Ito En, serves the perfect match(a) of flavors: black sesame, matcha and hojicha (roasted green tea). Get all three in a waffle bowl and give a confused look when the counter person asks how many spoons you need. (Only one.)
Inside Mitsuwa Marketplace at International Marketplace, 2330 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 664-0563, matchalove.com
Matcha Café Maiko
PHOTO: MARTHA CHENG
For matcha purists, Matcha Café Maiko serves the most intense matcha soft serve, the tea sourced from a single farm in southern Kyoto.
2310 Kūhiō Ave., #143, (808) 369-8031, matchacafe-maiko.com
The Pig & The Lady and Piggy Smalls
Find the best swirl in town at these sister restaurants, where the flavors change every week and have included cookies and cream custard swirled with strawberry sorbet, and banana toffee custard with blueberry sorbet. It’s almost always a perfect balance of tart and sweet, icy and creamy.
The Pig & The Lady, 83 N. King St., (808) 585-8255 | Piggy Smalls, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 777-3588
Photo: Robbie Dingeman
At the new barbecue joint in Kailua, Easy Que’s pineapple soft serve, topped with rhubarb-jam-smeared pie crust, feels like the perfect finish to a hot summer day.
767 Kailua Road, Suite 106, Kailua, (808) 762-3089, overeasyhi.com
SEE ALSO: First Look: Easy Que in Kailua
Photo: Sarah Burchard
Steak and soft serve? Find this simple and perfect combination at the new Aloha Steakhouse, by the same owners of Zigu and Goofy Café & Dine. The soft serve comes in the very summery flavor of watermelon, made with real watermelon juice.
320 Lewers St., (808) 600-3431, alohasteakhousewaikiki.com
This soft serve is literally bananas (bet Banán’s never heard that line before), made with the frozen fruit churned into a creamy—albeit a tad heavy—consistency. We’re partial to the liliko‘i and ‘ōlena flavors.
Multiple locations, bananbowls.com
SEE ALSO: It’s Bananas at Banán, Now in Mānoa, Too
Ok, enough of the new-fangled—Dole Whip is still as good as we remember it. And it’s no longer confined to Disneyland and Dole Plantation. The old-school treat is now found in recently made-over fancy spots around town—inside The Street at International Market Place, in a shaka waffle at Kokoro Café at the Royal Hawaiian Center, at Aloha Whip at the Queen Kapi‘olani Hotel—though for the most part, it’s served as refreshingly unadorned as it was by the Enchanted Tiki Room alongside The Jungle Cruise.
It’s summer, and the chocolate dipped cone is back. That’s all you need to know.
Ala Moana Center
And what about the bajillion soft serve places that recently opened in Ala Moana Center? We tried a bunch of them and the verdict: skip the too-sweet concoctions for shave ice, either at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha or Island Vintage Shave Ice, both of which use natural fruit syrups.
Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha at Ala Moana Center, at the Lānai, Level 2, Diamond Head Wing, (808) 377-6939, houseofpurealoha.com
Island Vintage Shave Ice, Mall Level 2, in the ‘Ewa Wing, (808) 942-7770, islandvintagecoffee.com