In Hawaii, locals eschew mainland-style crunchy ice saturated with artificial fruit-flavored syrup in favor of something far more authentic and exotic: the shave ice.
Ashley Honma tracked down five of the best places to experience traditional Hawaiian shave ice on the island of Oahu.
Only in the Aloha state will you find this refreshing treat perfected with the finest ground ice, true-to-life flavored syrups, and an exotic variety of toppings.
And on the island of Oahu, this local favorite is so popular that the selection may actually seem daunting. How do you distinguish truly good shave ice from imposters?
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is a name that has become synonymous with high-quality shave ice. Located on Oahu’s North Shore, this famous, family-owned store is known as the go-to spot for shave ice by both locals and tourists alike.
Don’t miss the Off the Brochure Travel Guide: Honolulu, Hawaii.
Choose from a variety of syrup flavors, including homemade lilikoi (passion fruit), “pog” (passion orange guava), and green tea, or try a specialty shave ice such as the popular azuki bowl, topped with condensed milk, mochi balls, and red azuki beans. Open year-round, the store has two locations on Wailoa Street and Kapahulu Street, with a third location coming soon. 808-949-2269 or 808-735-8886
More local recommendations: Ask the Locals Island Guide: Oahu, Hawaii.
Known for the sheer size of its shave ice, Shimazu Store boasts incomparable servings of its powdery creations. Want proof?
Called “The Larry,” the store’s extra-large sized shave ice is made with the same amount of ice it takes to make more than five of its small sized shave ice! Also impressive is the store’s unique selection of syrup flavors, which include homemade signatures such as root beer float, red velvet, and crème brulee. They taste so good, they make finishing one of the giant cones easy. Located on North School Street in Liliha.
Wonder where the Obamas go for shave ice? Head over to Kokonuts Shave Ice & Snacks, located in Koko Marina Center on the east side of Honolulu. Although the drive may be farther out of town, the generous portions of soft shave ice topped with homemade syrups from pure sugar make the store worth paying a visit. Other noteworthy menu options include its snack specials, featuring bubble (boba) drinks in more than 30 flavors, acai bowls and smoothies, and dessert crepes. Oh, and if you are wondering what the President prefers, he ordered the small-sized lemon-lime and cherry shave ice. 808-396-8809
Want more presidential picks? Visit Barack Obama’s Chicago and Beyond.
Tucked away within the residential area of Palolo, Your Kitchen is a small contemporary Japanese restaurant quickly gaining recognition for its fluffy shave ice. Using real fruit puree syrup, it boasts an assortment of homemade syrup and ice cream flavors, including mango, haupia (coconut milk), and papaya.
And if you love green tea, the fujiyama bowl is sure to not disappoint—created to resemble Mount Fuji, the sundae made with homemade green tea and azuki ice cream, shave ice drizzled in homemade green tea syrup and condensed milk, with a scoop of azuki beans. 808-203-7685
By Ashley Honma for PeterGreenberg.com.
For more hometown recommendations, don’t miss our Ask the Locals Island Guide: Oahu, Hawaii.
For more lesser-known spots in Hawaii’s capital, there’s also our Off the Brochure Travel Guide: Honolulu, Hawaii.
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And don’t miss our complete Hawaii Travel section.