Chill out that sweet tooth with salty soft serve
There is nothing more refreshing than ice cream on a hot summer day.
On Okinawa, soft-serve-style ice cream is called “soft cream” and it’s so popular that it is sold on just about every street corner. And there’s a lot more flavors on this tropical island than plain-old vanilla.
Typical Okinawan soft cream flavors range from strawberry, “shequasha” (flat lemon) and “goya” (bitter melon) to red potato and brown sugar. If you’re an ice cream aficionado who has been on island awhile, you’ve no doubt tried a few. But there’s one local flavor of soft cream you may not have experienced yet.
Ma-suya, or The Salt Shop in the Okinawan dialect, offers “yukishio soft,” a soft-cream flavored with sea salt for 380 yen ($3).
Salt may sound like the last flavor you’d like for a cold summer sweet. However, shop staffer Haruka Arata insists that it enriches the taste of the sweet cream, making it even richer and milder than more run-of-the-mill soft cream.
Ma-suya boasts that the salt used for its soft cream comes directly from the seawater off Miyakojima Island. The natural mineral-rich water makes the salt very tasty. In fact, it won a gold medal in Belgium’s prestigious international Monde Selection food contest three times.
The shop’s salt soft cream can be enjoyed as is, or you can adjust it to your individual taste by adding flavored salts available as toppings at the counter. Currently, there are nine flavored salts, such as cocoa, green tea, “shimatogarashi” (island hot pepper), “yuzu” (Chinese lemon), wasabi or hibiscus. You can sprinkle one or more on the top of your soft cream.
“I recommend the cocoa-salt, since its bitter and salty flavors really blend well with that of the sweet soft cream,” Arata says. She suggests sprinkling the different salts on after tasting the ice cream each time to enjoy the full range of changing flavors. “It can be really dynamic, turning this cold sweet from one flavor to another like the layers of a tiramisu dessert.”
For those with more of a salty, than sweet, tooth, Ma-suya also offers 600 types of salts from Okinawa, mainland Japan and other countries. You can sample many of these salts at its tasting counter before making a purchase.
As the shop is situated in busy Heiwadori arcade near Makishi Station, a lot of U.S. service members also drop in to sample Ma-suya’s popular cold sweet, according to Arata.
So don’t miss an opportunity to check out this rare Okinawan salt shop while on island and cool down with its unique salt ice cream. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did.
Ma-suya- Heiwadori Shop
Hours: 9:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Address: 3-2-59 Makishi, Naha City (10 minute-walk from Makishi Station)