The ube and vanilla soft serve swirl from Ube + Vanilla in Kaimuki, Oahu.

Photo: Catherine Toth Fox

The Coolest Way to Eat Ube Right Now

Oahu shops are serving a soft-serve version of this sweet purple yam.

A couple of years ago, a bright-purple yam from the Philippines was all the Instagram rage.

Ube (pronounced oo-bae) is traditionally used to create a gorgeous pudding dessert (called ube halaya). Today, though, it has become the base flavor for artisanal desserts—from doughtnuts to cheesecakes to ice cream. It has a creamy, subtly sweet flavor—one chef likened it to something similar to white chocolate but with earthy tones—that makes it a versatile ingredient in desserts. (Back in 2016, Manila Social Club in Brooklyn, New York debuted the Golden Cristal Donut, with a batter consisting of ube mousse and Cristal Champange and the whole thing was covered in gold flakes. The shop sold a dozen for $1,000.)

Also, that color!

In Hawaii, we’ve seen ube in boba drinks, breads, tarts and cheesecakes.

SEE ALSO: Ube Factory’s Ube Tarts are Oahu’s Sweetest Dessert Craze

But this summer, the purple sweet potato has been transformed into something even sweeter—and perfect for these humid months: soft serve.

Ube + Vanilla (1115 12th Ave.), a sister company to Chocolate + Vanilla Bakery in Kaimuki on Oahu, has been serving ube soft serve since March 2019. Owner Jill Yamashita, who also runs the bakery, got a new machine last month that produces two flavors she can swirl together.

She first got into ube a couple of years ago when she spotted ube bread at the grocery store. “I had no idea what it was,” she admits. A huge fan of the color purple, she decided to use ube in her baked goods. Today, she sells ube-flavored bread pudding, muffins, scones and butter mochi. You could say she’s obsessed.

Her soft serve is both dairy-free and vegan, and she plans to change up the flavors. She’s planning to create matcha, orange sherbet, root beer and cotton candy flavors soon.

But Ube + Vanilla isn’t the only spot serving ube soft serve.




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Ubae Hawaii (1284 Kalani St., Honolulu) is all about the ube, serving decadent cheesecakes, tarts and crinkle cookies. It’s added soft serve to its menu, and its bright-violet dessert is pure Instagram gold.


And Thrills Soft Serve (510 Piikoi St., Honolulu), which recently opened near Ala Moana Center, boasts a super-fun menu of dessert-y soft-serve flavors, from the bubble-gum-pink Fruity Pebbles to a charcoal-colored Oreo. And yes, there’s ube, too.

Add these to your must-eat list this summer.