What makes guri-guri so good?

Images courtesy of Cindy Tasaka-Ing and John Hook

It’s no secret that Hawai’i loves the Tasaka Guri-Guri shop in Kahului on Maui. In fact, many Maui locals would opt to have scoops of guri-guri stacked in a paper cup rather than ice cream or shave ice on a hot day—or any day, really. However, it is a secret as to what exactly makes up this cool treat that has many lining up for more.

“[Guri-guri is] a cross between the sherbet and the ice cream,” explains Cindy Tasaka-Ing. About 100 years ago, her great-grandfather Jokichi Tasaka kicked it all off off with a confectionery store where he sold sweets and snacks such as mochi and senbei.When her grandfather, Gunji Tasaka, took over the business, he incorporated guri-guri into the other foods they sold.

“After a while, the guri-guri was more popular so they did away with the mochi and chi chi dango stuff, so it was only the guri-guri,” says Tasaka-Ing. When her father, Henry Tasaka, and her uncle, Setsuo Tasaka, took over the business, they concentrated on guri-guri as well.

“Guri-guri” doesn’t translate to anything in Japanese. It was originally called “goodie-goodie” as something good to eat. During the plantation days, however, the Japanese people would pronounce it as “guri-guri” and the name stuck.

Guri-guri on Maui

Tasaka guri-guri is sold by the scoop and is $1.20 for two scoops. Customers can have up to five, and after that, it’s sold by the pint. Although the store offers only two signature flavors, strawberry and pineapple, the treat’s consistency–and deliciousness–over the years have built a loyal customer base. “It’s something they remember from their childhood, like the people who go away and then they come back and they remember eating it,” saya Tasaka-Ing. “I enjoy working here and seeing all the familiar faces and new faces that come. Our customers come every day or at least once a week, so we kind of know them.”

Other shops have created recipes similar to guri-guri, but none will be exactly like the ones sold at the sole Tasaka Guri-Guri shop on Maui. It’s a long-time family secret and intends to stay that way. Currently, only Tasaka-Ing and her sister Gail Saito know how to make the guri-guri, and they make it in batches throughout the day.

The staff at Tasaka Guri-Guri

Visit Tasaka Guri Guri: 70 E Kaahumanu Ave C13, Kahului, HI 96732  //  808-871-4513

Hours of operation:

Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sun 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.


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