Our favorites: Summer Frappe smoothies

Sadly, we found Summer Frappe abruptly closed with no notice about a new location or any explanation, just a few weeks before we left Oahu. If Summer Frappe has re-opened in another location, please leave a comment below or email us and we will post the information.

Owner Summer Chau
Owner Summer Chau

One of Honolulu’s best-kept secrets? Has to be Summer Frappe at the Maunakea Marketplace in Chinatown. Hands-down the best fresh fruit smoothies in the islands. No artificially-flavored powdered smoothies here. Owner Summer Chau uses recipes and techniques learned in her native Vietnam: adding only the freshest fruits in her smoothies, and no fillers, ice cream, yogurt or artificial flavors — just fruit, a little ice, a touch of sweetener (if needed) and enough water to blend. Mrs. Chau prepares each smoothie to order, and if the fruits she finds in the market don’t meet her exacting quality standards (not ripe enough, not sweet enough, too stringy), she won’t offer that flavor on a particular day. (The saddest news I can get from her: avocados not good today)

The prices here are crazy cheap ($3-4) for the ratio of fruit to ice & water in your smoothie. What you taste is fresh ripe fruit. Flavors include: fresh mango, papaya, pineapple, soursop, jackfruit, honeydew, durian(!), and avocado. There is also fresh orange and watermelon juices, and fresh lemonade.
Individually prepared smoothies Fresh fruits for your smoothie
The refrigerated shelves in this clean and cheerful shop are stocked with the beautiful blemish-free fruits used in the smoothies. You will also find prepared fresh fruit bowls that make a perfect take-away treat, and are great value.

Summer Frappe’s newest offering: fresh-pressed juice, gotu kola, a.k.a. pennywort. Gotu kola has been gaining popularity in the West for its health benefits, including reducing hypertension and boosting the immune system. Mrs. Chau says she has regular customers in the Vietnamese, Thai, and Laotian community who drink this fresh-pressed juice daily as a health tonic. She recommends sweetening the juice for first-time drinkers, but prefers it unsweetened herself. We both found the lightly sweetened drink very pleasant and grassy, although T admits his first impression was of lake water (he grew up swimming in Maine’s fresh-water lakes). Since gotu kola tends to grow in wet marshy areas, this makes sense. We’ve tried the canned “pennywort drink” that’s available in many Asian groceries before, and the fresh juice drink tastes very different.
Fresh_pressed gotu kola (pennywort) Fresh gotu kola

The ever-popular “bubble tea” drinks with the large chewy tapioca balls floating in various tea, coffee, and fruit flavors are also available at Summer Frappe. The bubble teas do not have fresh fruit. But you can request tapioca “bubbles” for your fresh fruit smoothie for an extra 50 cents.
Avocado smoothie -- the best! Entrance to Summer Frappe
In Maunakea Marketplace Courtyard, Chinatown
(On Maunakea, between Hotel and Pauahi Streets)
Entering from the Maunakea Street entrance, it’s to the right as you enter the courtyard