It’s always a proud moment when I see a restaurant that boldly waves the dairy-free flag. So I was beaming when I learned about Banán in Honolulu. They’re a local soft serve chain that swirls “nice cream” made from bananas. They are a completely dairy-free establishment with a healthy selection of flavors and delicious natural toppings. And now they have a location in Kailua, too!
Banán a-peels to Healthy Dairy-Free Ice Cream Seekers in Honolulu
Banán is unique business in many ways, beyond their dairy-free commitment. They source almost all of their ingredients from Hawaii farms, they have a BYOB (bring your own bowl) promotion where they donate to local non-profits, and they don’t sweeten their regular banana soft serve at all. It’s purely Oahu-grown bananas that are frozen, pureed, and swirled into ice cream. So it’s always refreshing, but it isn’t always very sweet. The flavor will depend on the batch of bananas used.
The Acai flavor (pictured below), which is available at all locations, is the sweetest in my opinion. It’s a simple blend of banana and acai that tastes just like a very cool, creamy acai bowl. That was my favorite flavor to enjoy as is. The Chocolate Mac is infused with a little honey, so it’s next up on the sweetness scale, but it still isn’t as sweet as I expected. I haven’t tried Greens flavor yet, but have heard it definitely tastes healthier than the others.
All of the above are great for a morning treat, but if you’re looking for more of a dessert, add some of their toppings onto your order. They offer locally-sourced options like papaya, pineapple, honey, dark chocolate, guava jam, mac nut honey butter, or granola. You can also order your soft serve in a fresh-squeezed orange float, shake, or papaya boat. And everything is plant-based, and primarily vegan – honey is the only non-vegan ingredient they use.
It Pays to Venture Out of the Tourist Zone
Banán has a handful of Honolulu locations, including one right in Waikiki. But tourists will pay for the convenience. The prices are literally double at that shop. At most Banán locations, a cup is $4, but in Waikiki, it’s $8, which seems a little steep for what you get. Nonetheless, most places in Waikiki have quite a mark up.
If you want to pay less, hit up the Banán food truck on your way to or from Diamond Head or the KCC Farmers Market (two popular tourist attractions). It’s an instagram-worthy adventure.
Where to Find Banán
At last count, they had five Honolulu locations. One is their original food truck on the road to Diamond Head (Monsarrat Avenue), one in the narrow Waikiki alley to the beach in between the Cheesecake Factory and the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, one at Kahala Mall, one at the University of Hawaii (bigger flavor selection), and one in the popular beach town of Kailua. See their website below for specific addresses, hours, and phone numbers.
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Good, a touch sweeter would be great
I love the creamy consistency and the fact that it’s made with just fruit. It really is energizing and refreshing! But, the flavor would be a little more satisfying with just a hint of sweetener. I liked the acai as is, but the banana and chocolate hazelnut flavors had some of those bitter banana notes. I tried ordering the banana with honey on top, but honey tends to solidify and stick rather than melding into the flavor. It might be nice if they infused the flavor with a little date syrup or had a date caramel for topping. I’ve also tried ordering the orange float three times, but they never have the orange juice available.