Shave Ice is an iconic part of Hawaii. It can actually be traced back to kakigori, a Japanese ice dessert. When the Japanese immigrated to Hawaii in the sugar cane plantation days, this is one of the things that they brought with them. Pretty cool, right?
So when my visiting friends ask me what they should eat while they’re here, Shave Ice is one of my number one recommendations. But now the big question, where do you go for it?
If you’re on the island of Oahu, look no further! Here are my top 5:
(P.S. If you click on the link, it’ll bring you to each place’s Yelp page which includes a map and reviews!)
1. Shimazu Store, Honolulu
Whenever people talk about Shave Ice, they never bring up Shimazu Store. I have no idea why but seriously, this is the best Shave Ice on the island. The ice texture is amazing, the flavors here are amazing, and the portion sizes are–you guessed it–amazing. It’s a little out of the way for most tourists but this is where the locals go. The only downside to this place is the parking situation. Be careful about parking on the street–read the signs and don’t get towed!
2. Waiola Shave Ice, Honolulu
Like Shimazu’s, Waiola’s is also a local Mom and Pop store…except this one expanded to several locations (including one in the Kapahulu area). This is true old school Hawaii which means that its got lots of charm but isn’t that fancy. The flavors are sweet, the ice texture is very fine, and they’ve got lots of different toppings! Most people I know actually rank Waiola’s as their number 1.
3 & 4 . Matsumoto’s Grocery Store and Aoki’s Shave Ice, Haleiwa
They are…pretty much the same to me, haha (and honestly, I think that both of them are way overrated). I don’t think the Shave Ice here is particularly special but it does taste pretty mean after you’ve spent all day at the beach. Matsumoto’s OR Aoki’s is a must-have when visiting the North Shore just because it’s pretty much tradition!
5. Ice Garden, Aiea
I grew up in Aiea and I grew up eating Ice Garden Shave Ice. If you decide to give this place a shot, please don’t judge the older Chinese ladies working the counter too seriously–they aren’t the friendliest but they sure do know how to make good shave ice. The shave ice here isn’t packed together (like it is with the rest of the 4 on this list)–it’s still fluffy when its put in its bowl so its a different experience.
And here are some other random Shave Ice tips:
- Don’t be shame to order the plastic cup holder. It really does make eating Shave Ice easier (which makes it less messy and more enjoyable).
- Stop ordering the Rainbow and try new flavors! Li Hing Mui with Mango is my personal favorite.
- Be adventurous–try the toppings. The condensed milk, azuki, or ice cream can bring your Shave Ice eating experience to a whole new level.