Mahalo to my husband for arranging an amazing birthday vacation to Maui, Hawaii. Not only was it the absolute perfect week of sun and relaxation, it provided a great opportunity to sample a brand new ice cream scene!
While Hawaiian Shaved Ice and a wide range of pineapple-themed sweets are more prevalent, I managed to locate several fun scoop shop options around the area of Lahaina.
Island Cream Co.
Our first stop was Island Cream Co. Located in a strip mall in Lahaina, I did not have high expectations for this place based on the venue. But looks can be deceiving, and its online ranking as one of the top shops in Maui suggested this might be the case.
We were greeted at the entrance by a massive make-your-own shaved ice Glacier Ice Station. I skipped straight past this to the back of the shop where a vast display case featured a rainbow of colorful ice cream flavors.
Warning signs across the display case glass announced that “Island Cream is NOT Gelato! Island Cream is a registered product — it is a hybrid between Gelato and Premium Ice Cream.” While I can’t validate its technical status, it certainly was a unique consistency. All the flavors we sampled were light, not terribly creamy or dense, and smooth with a touch of iciness. The result was product that felt not nearly as guilt-inducing as some other premium varieties without sacrificing any richness of flavor.
Here’s what I tried:
- Mexican Vanilla – a smooth vanilla with a hint of spice, resulting in an absolutely gorgeous flavor
- Lahaina Cream – their own “adults-only” blend of Irish Cream featuring both whiskey and kahlua had a great strong boozy flavor (it’s OK, I’m on vacation!)
- Strawberry Shortcake – this strawberry base with homemade cake pieces had a good strong flavor, but the “fake” berry variety I tend to avoid
- Black Forest – a deep dark chocolate base punctuated with homemade chocolate cake pieces, cherries and sauce was a super rich treat, but kept things balanced by not overdoing it on the sauce and other extras
This shop is all about the branding. Every scoop comes dressed up in a blue branded cup with a bright red branded spoon, and adorned with a baton cookie. They really stand by their quality, too, handing everyone a card at checkout that features a note of thanks from the owners and requesting that “if we have not earned a “5 STARS” with you, PLEASE see one of our servers before you leave or email…” Granted, this makes it feel like they have gamed the system a bit to get that high rating online. But based on my other stops throughout the week, the high scores are much deserved.
Total score: 4.6 scoops
Ba Gul Ba Gul
Ba Gul Ba Gul was a total random find in an off-the-beaten-path food truck park that we stumbled upon one evening during a post-dinner stroll up the beach from the Ka’anapali resort area. This is not your grandma’s ice cream truck; no scoops or cones here. Instead, this is a new-age type of place that specializes in the rolled ice cream and some crazy shaved ice concoctions.
For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of rolled ice cream, here’s a general definition:
Stir-fried ice cream, also known as rolled ice cream, is a sweetened frozen dessert…made using milk, cream, and sugars as well as other added ingredients…The liquid mixture is stirred to incorporate air spaces on an ice pan and simultaneously cooled to -20 degrees…the result is rolls of smooth, semi-solid ice cream or gelato.– Wikipedia
While I have started to see a lot of rolled ice cream concepts popping up, but had not tried any yet. But, hey, when in Maui, right?
Because your ice cream is essentially created on-demand, you can’t taste test flavors, which means you really have to be confident in your decision. You can pick one ice cream flavor, two toppings, and whip or no whip.
I decided to be bold and selected the taro ice cream. The scooper (or maybe, more appropriately, stirrer) recommended topping this with condensed milk, coconut flake or red bean. But, frankly, I couldn’t bring myself to go quite that wild. I went with popping boba and mini mochi instead, and skipped the whip.
The taro flavor itself was rather indiscernible, which may have been for the best given my choice of toppings. The ice cream was a sort of flaky, creamy texture. As it melted it becomes a bit more familiar in terms of mouthfeel, but soon become rather watery. I liked it best in a middle-state, somewhere between the “crunchier” texture you get at first but before you get to the melted soupy state at the end.
The “pop” of the boba was a bit jarring at first, but a fun burst of flavor against an otherwise rather bland ice cream. The mochi was a yummy compliment to the taro, though I could have done with more. If I were to do it all again, I would probably skip the boba altogether and do a syrup of some kind instead.
On a side note, my husband tried a Pineapple Blast, a wild concoction comprised of shaved pineapple juice (yes, actual flaky shavings of frozen juice), topped with Li Hing Mui powder (a bright rust orange colored dried plum powder) and Mini Mochi. Sounds bizarre, but was absolutely amazing.
Total score: 2.6 scoops
Located near the famous Lahaina Banyan Tree, the Banyan Treats shop was one of many scoop shop options along Lahaina’s picturesque Front Street that runs along the beachfront. I selected this one for its hometown-y feel, high rankings by other visitors, and a great selection of Hawaiian flavors.
While they do not make their own ice cream, they serve local Maui-based Roselani ice cream. Flavors ranged from the classics to distinctly Hawaiian concepts like Pa’uela Sunrise, Coconut Pudding and Vanilla Macadmia.
I sampled couple of the fruity flavors, but found them to be a bit too artificial tasting. Overall, the texture of all the samples we tested was a bit watery and had hints of ice crystals. None were terribly heavy or creamy. In the end, my husband and I each selected a couple of Hawaiian flavors that erred toward the more classic end of the spectrum:
- Cherry Truffle Aloha – this lovely creamy selection had a good strong cherry flavored base punctuated with big generous cherry and fudge pieces. Yum!
- Kona Mud Pie – this Kona coffee flavored base with chocolate cookie crumble pieces and fudge had a great strong coffee flavor and good balance of cookie crumbles. While the fudge was pretty much non-existent, I honestly didn’t miss it.
The shop itself was fun and quirky, and the presentation of each scoop with a little happy face was a cute touch. This was a nice place to stop on a hot day, but I would likely visit one of the many other options on another day before heading back.
Total score: 2.4 scoops
As with most vacations, there simply wasn’t enough time. But I left relaxed, recharged, and reassured that there is indeed a solid supply of sweet treats to be had in Hawaii. Definitely hope to go back and try some more someday!