Our resident soft serve savant Kelli Shiroma holds a taiyaki cone swirled with ube and chocolate ice cream topped with M&M's. 

Gimme Chills: a new soft serve shop with a Korean twist

Korean shave ice, grilled stuffed mochi and more chillin' at Samsung Plaza
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If four soft serve ice cream shops could open within a month of each other in autumn, it would be in Hawaii. Funny enough, they also happen to be within spitting distance of each other: Three are at Ala Moana Center and the fourth, Gimme Chills, is a block and a half mauka at Samsung Plaza.

I spotted a friend's Instagram post about Gimme Chills just as our resident soft serve savant, Kelli Shiroma, was coming out of a sugar coma after covering Somi Somi's debut. We set out to see how far we could make it though the GC menu.

Gimme Chills in Samsung Plaza on Keeaumoku Street, Honolulu.
Located near Koreantown 's best eats collection at Samsung Plaza.

Being in the middle of Keeaumoku, the shop has a Korean bent. The large fruity bingsu shave ice bowls and sweet hotteok mochi pancakes caught my attention, as they're hard to come by in Hawaii. For Kelli, it was the taiyaki cones swirled with housemade soft cream flavors like Fantastic10, a mild 10-grain ice cream, and Black Choco made with squid ink. You can also catch some made-to-order taiyaki, or bungeoppang, filled with red bean, custard or Nutella and banana – they're three for $5 and a buck extra for the banana varient. 

If your sweet tooth isn't tingling yet, they're also whipping up honey brick toast ($7.95) and mochi rice sticks ($4.45 - 5.95) and are working on a frozen s'mores dessert and a drink menu. This is just since opening on Oct. 25. 

Kelli with a taiyaki fish cone with ube and chocolate ice cream swirled in it.
The taiyaki cone is thicker than other spots and has a substantial mochi-like chew that we both loved. 

First up: the soft serve, which also comes in Mr. Green matcha and Ube Scream varieties. We got a taiyaki cone ($5.95), which has more of a glutinous mochi chew than a SomiSomi ah-boong, and swirled ube and chocolate. A topping bar near the register is available for DIY customizations with M&Ms, sprinkles, syrups and more. As expected, the soft serve melts extremely fast, so you'll need to be quick if you plan on posting it to your 'gram. The 10-grain flavor, reminicent of a toasty genmaicha tea, is my favorite and happens to be the shop's most popular. 

Fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste.
Called bungeoppang in Korean, the taiyaki can be filled with red bean, custard, Nutella or Nutella and banana.

The texture of GC's original taiyaki is best experienced warm with either the gooey custard or sweet azuki bean paste fillings, spread edge to edge. It's like the cones and have that same addictive chew. 

Black Sesame Bingsu ($8.95)
Black sesame bingsu shave ice ($8.95) topped with Fantastic10 soft cream that's been frozen and scooped, black sesame powder, honey, almonds and mochi. 

In Korea's sweltering summer, crowds flock to eat patbingsu: shave ice with sweet red bean, mochi, roasted soybean powder, slivered almonds, condensed milk and sliced fruit. Gimme Chills' owners imported a machine to create milk bingsu, a new type trending in Korea that instantly transforms cream into soft, powdery snow. In a bowl, the fine powder is topped with a matching soft cream and crowned with chewy mochi cubes, glistening chunks of fruit and homemade cheesecake, creamy smooth kabocha pumpkin or simply with pulverized black sesame. In total, the menu has 12 flavors (from $8 to 10 each) and is growing.

Kabocha bingsu $9.95
The kabocha bingsu ($9.95) is very filling: topped with a scoop of 10-grain ice cream, granola, almonds, honey, sweet red beans, mochi and chunks of simmered kabocha pumpkin.

Their small appearance is deceptive: This will humble even the most confident dessert demolisher. If you plan on conquering the menu, I suggest sharing amongst many friends. 

Hotteok pancake with oozing brown sugar cinnamon filling
A little work on consistency with hotteok will take Gimme Chills far. The filling is perfect, just needs a little more time in the pan. 

Hotteok is a rare treat even within Hawaii's Korean community. A beloved winter street food, I discovered it while freezing my butt off in Seoul; I found it again at last year's Korean Festival (video below). The crispy pan-fried rice cakes are served bubbling hot from the inside out. Filled with crushed nuts and molten brown sugar and cinnamon, they singe your lips, which is part of the hotteok experience. At Gimme Chills they're $2.75 or two for $5, but if you want one with ice cream it's $4.75. 


Making hotteok 호떡 or sweet pancakes with brown sugar filling. Mashiseoyo!!!

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With new desserts in the works, I might be seeking refuge from the tropical heat of Koreatown more often.

Gimme Chills Dessert Cafe
Samsung Plaza
665 Keeaumoku Street

Sun - Thurs 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri - Sat 10:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. 

Metered street or validated 3-hour parking in the Samsung lot