As a food blogger, I’m often scanning social media and news websites to find out what’s new in the Triangle. There’s no single list to find new businesses across Wake, Durham, and Orange counties so it’s a constant effort to uncover places to visit. What makes it even trickier when there’s no website or social presence online! And that was the case with Salt n Cocoa over in S. Durham. Through multiple mentions I uncovered, it seemed to be a coffee shop and ice cream joint that offered Japanese taiyaki? Color me curious, I decided to make an effort to visit this low-profile business!
Salt n Cocoa, Interior and Decor
Head on over to Hope Valley Commons, a busy plaza at the intersection of NC-54 and 751 where you’ll find a Harris Teeter, Walgreens, Makus Empanadas, and a variety of other small businesses. Salt n Cocoa sits in a location that used to be Sweet Charlies which explains the rolled ice cream on the menu. The store is long and bright, traditional marble-topped counter and tables fill the space. A lot of white, reds, and blacks give the space a classic feel. Menus behind the counter cover the offerings: coffee, tea, rolled ice cream, soft serve, taiyaki, and Liege waffles, cool! Basically a quick spot for a sweet treat or warm drink.
Salt n Cocoa, Menu and Food
I’m trying to figure out what to order given I’ve just had dinner in Durham and decide to go with the mango rolled ice cream and a couple of taiyaki (red bean, custard). Given everything is made by hand, it takes 5 or 10 minutes of work to put my order together so I watch for a bit. The rolled ice cream is done on a freezing platter like many other spots but the taiyaki construction is cool! Salt n Cocoa has a large taiyaki mold of four fishes, batter is squeezed in, and then a bit of filling is placed inside. Definitely a labor of love and some work.
When it comes to trendy, Thai rolled ice cream, I enjoy how it looks but usually find the actual ice cream to be a bit icy and of lower quality. But not here at Salt n Cocoa! I think their rolled ice cream is a cut above, smooth and dense with good flavor. A wafer, pocky sticks, fruit, and candy bling it out and make for a great treat here.
And Salt n Cocoa’s taiyaki are wonderful! Warm pastries, fresh out of the oven and filled with tasty and sweet, red bean, delish; a traditional Asian-style treat. While the price may seem a bit high for the taiyaki pastries, there’s a lot of labor involved and I think it’s probably pretty hard to find anyone serving up traditional, fresh taiyaki elsewhere in the Triangle. See Sugar Koi in Cary for koiyaki (fish-shaped cone) and ice cream!
Salt n Cocoa, Conclusion
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised with Salt n Cocoa: their space, food, and concept. The owners are recent transplants from San Francisco and wanted to open up a business they were passionate about and it shows in their offering. While the location is not super convenient to me, I’m glad I made the drive to try it out and I’ll be back to try more off their sweets menu. If you live in the hood, stop on by to see what they are serving up. I think you’ll enjoy their high-quality sweets, ice cream, and coffee that’s done with an Asian twist.