At Asato Family Shop in downtown Honolulu, customers wait in line for hours to buy island-style sherbet at $6 a pint.
Founder Neale Asato credits one of his inspirations as the summers he spent on Maui working at two stores. One — Kaohu Store in Wailuku — was operated by his mother’s relative Misao Tengan, and the other — Fukushima Store in Haiku — was run by another relative.
He would work at the stores and enjoy the benefits of Maui life, such as the legendary Tasaka Guri Guri and ice cakes.
Guri Guri is sherbet-style treat that is sweet, refreshing and fruity. As a small kid, Asato would try to make the frozen dessert at home, and memories of those happy, simpler times stayed with him over the years.
ASATO FAMILY SHOP
>> Where: 1306 Pali Highway
>> Hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays; final Wednesday sales this week, 11-1
>> Website: asatofamilyshop.com
Asato opened his store in December, selling sherbet during limited hours on Sundays and Wednesdays only. (Effective Sept. 1, the shop will open Sundays only “to focus on the quality of our product.) It’s a family affair, with wife Eryn helping out and 11-year-old son Brandyn out front servicing customers. Even 4-year-old Mila does what she can, and Asato’s parents lend a hand, too.
Each Sunday at noon, sherbet hopefuls can go online to try to preorder. Otherwise customers can take a chance and show up at the store to buy any remaining pints.
Sherbet is different from sorbet and ice cream. It must contain 1% to 2% milk fat. Sorbet doesn’t contain any dairy, while ice cream has at least 10% fat from milk.
Serious Asato Family Store customers eventually became “subscribers” who preorder six pints at a time, receiving a set of three classic sherbets — pineapple, strawberry and Green River, patterned after the old- fashioned, green, sweet fountain drink — and three other flavors that change monthly.
Asato said new flavors are borrowed from crack seed stores, the manapua man and mom-and-pop shops from back in the day. These innovations have included White Rabbit, Mango Bango, Orange Creamsicle, Pina Colada, Li Hing Float, Lemon Peel Gummy Bears and Pickled Mango Juice.
“Specific flavors, imagery and other sensations are able to transport us back in time to when we were all kids,” he said.
Asato was formerly a cook at the prestigious Vintage Cave restaurant in Ala Moana Center. His new venture is proving so popular the existing space is maxed out. So, we’re wondering what’s next. Old-time favorites can become the future.
This is not the official recipe, but a popular one that mimics the refreshing dessert.
2 11.5-ounce cans strawberry guava juice or strawberry soda
1 12-ounce can lemon- lime-flavored soda
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Mix the ingredients in a large bowl and freeze. Scrape with a fork every 1 to 2 hours for the creamiest texture. Even if frozen overnight, just scrape it with a fork before serving and it will be delicious. Serves 6 to 10, depending on serving size.
NOTE: For creamier sherbet, add ½ cup half-and-half or whipping cream to the mixture before freezing. For the old-fashioned darker color, add a few drops of red food coloring to the mixture.
Approximate nutrient analysis per serving (based on 8 servings, not including half-and-half or cream): 200 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 39 g sugar, 3 g protein
Lynette Lo Tom offers recipes for the Maui home cook. She is the author of “A Chinese Kitchen” and “Back in the Day” cookbooks. Send your ideas to email@example.com or call 275-3004.