VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — An international chain is making waves in Virginia Beach. Aqua S on General Booth Boulevard opened in 2019 as the first of its kind in the United States.
The person responsible for bringing it here is the owner and store manager, Xiawei "Hawaii" Lin.
"My husband and I went to Sydney, Australia, for our honeymoon and stumbled upon Aqua S," she smiled.
She said they both have a sweet tooth, and they had to try it.
"We saw [a cone], we were like, 'Blue color? What flavor is it?' We thought it was cotton candy," she gushed about the colors she saw coming out of the Australian chain.
"We tried it, and we were like, 'Oh my God, this is so good,'" she smiled. The flavor wasn't cotton candy but rather, sea salt.
The sea salt flavor is an Aqua S signature piece, and Lin had to have it.
"So, when we came back to Virginia Beach right here, we've been thinking about that sea salt flavor," she laughed. Lin and her husband searched for the flavor at different local spots.
"We could not find it anywhere, so we were like, 'Why don't we open one [Aqua S] to bring those goodies to Virginia Beach?'"
So, she got to work and brought the chain to the United States. There are other stores in the country, but she holds significant territory.
"The next closest location is actually in Houston, Texas. We're the only one by the East Coast right now," she nodded with pride.
For Lin, it was intentional to bring the shop to Virginia Beach.
"Virginia Beach means a lot to me. I love Virginia Beach. I used to live in New York for 10 years. I moved from New York to Virginia Beach. People were like, 'Why Virginia Beach?' I love the people here. I love the environment here. That's one of the reasons why I didn't open the store in New York. I opened the store in Virginia Beach. The people in Virginia Beach, they need to try some goodies from Australia." she explained.
The "goodies," as Lin calls them, are delicious! The sea salt flavor is a must-try!
"You know how we make desserts, right? We put it a little bit of salt to bring other flavors more? That's exactly what this is. When you have the sea salt, just the sweetness and the salty... it's the right amount of salt," she said.
If you're going to get a cone, go all-out. Aqua S toppings aren't your everyday choices. Instead, try topping your cone with a cloud of cotton candy. It adds so much fun and whimsical vibes to your cone. Plus, the cotton candy is delicious.
Then take a trip down memory lane, and instead of sprinkles, go with pop rocks...
"If you remember when you were a child, right, we always wanted to have pop candies, and pop rocks make the cotton candy, bringing out more flavors, and of course we have sprinkles, everybody loves sprinkles," Lin laughed.
We've talked about the sea salt flavor, but they have many more. For example, Aqua S has 100+ flavors, but they rotate them, so there's something different every time you come in. You can try Black Hawaiin, Belgian Chocolate, Taro, Ube, Durian, Pink Lemonade, Pineapple, Cookies and Cream. The list goes on and on.
Not sure which one you want? You can mix two on one cone! Or, if you're feeling adventurous, go with the mystery flavor of the week.
However, one flavor always remains: "Definitely try the sea salt when you get here. If this is your first time here, that's our signature. Try the sea salt. People love our sea salt," Lin raved over the teal blue cone.
The flavors are excellent, and the soft serve is a perfect texture. At Aqua S in Virginia Beach, they say they only serve the best, and it's evident; that even their machines are imported from Italy to ensure the best.
"When we make our ice cream, we have to get the best of everything. The best quality machine to make the premium ice cream. The best quality of all of the ingredients to make our soft serve. And that's what makes this place very unique, the flavors, the quality of our products," said Lin.
They offer more than just soft serve. They also sell different floats with unique soda flavors like mango and blueberry. Want the ice cream without the cone? Try one of their shakes with a mix of their special flavors.
This place is even more unique because it feels like a local spot even though it is an international chain. That's because Lin is a local, and she wants to give something special to Virginia Beach.
"We want to make sure everybody -- when they walk through the door -- they feel welcome. They feel like this is their home, and they can stay here, talk to their family and friends about how good the dessert is, and talk about life, you know? Relax," she smiled.
If you want to grab a fantastic cone and relax at Aqua S, you can visit them at 2204 General Booth Blvd #410, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.