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Shave Ice on Oahu

Tried a couple new places this time. Here is my personal preference for Shave Ice on Oahu.

1. Ailana Shave Ice- Shave ice is extra fine and toppings are made with real fruit. Had the Strawberry Creme and Haupia. Also, tried the Tropical Trio which was also very good. Located right behind Ala Moana Mall with parking.

2. Shimazu Store- Toppings are also homemade (well some of them) I got the small and it was pretty huge.

3. Ice Garden- I always get the one with the flan and condensed milk topping.

4. Waiola Shave Ice- This used to be my number 1 but others have surpassed it.

5. Matsumoto Shave Ice- I like the toppings but the ice needs to be finer and its far from town.

6. Tropicana- I did not like this one. Maybe an off day. The toppings tasted old.

7. Island Snow- This was just bad. This tasted like a snow cone, not shave ice.

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Matsumoto Shave Ice
66 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Ice Gardens
Aiea Shopping Ctr, Aiea, HI 96701

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  1. Agree wit u..been to Ailana last june. Like what they serve.
    While growing up always went to Shimazu, formerly B&S. We're talking in the 1960s.
    Parking was no problem then as we rode our bikes. The shave ice was big then and only 25 cents....

    1. Great list, Socal boy. I will need to try Ice Garden and Shimazu when I get back to Oahu. I also think Ailana is the best shave ice, especially with the whole fruit toppings.

      Like you, Waiola used to be tops on my list. They skimp on their syrup and the service is not very friendly.

      I understand Tropicana might be undergoing ownership change. I love this place also, but we'll see how it tastes the next time we visit.

      Another place I want to try not on your list is Mountain Magic, not brick-and-mortar, but a truck or stand that serves shave ice in a shopping center in Kapolei. My sister-in-law raves about it.

      Have you tried Get Shaved in Northridge. Not quite on par with Oahu establishments, but very good and fine.

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      Ice Gardens
      Aiea Shopping Ctr, Aiea, HI 96701

      1. Ice Garden should be some place to try just for their unusual condiments (e.g. oatmeal)

        Hula Boba is also a favorite as they use what seems to be blocks of ice milk to shave from. They also use fruit preserves instead of syrup.

        For ice quality alone, I've always like Jon's Store in Puunui, which is at the top of Liliha. This is a really small mom-and-pop place, and I don't know if it's still there. The ice here was fine, but not so fine that it becomes close to a slurpee or icee. (I think Waiola can get this way.)

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        Ice Gardens
        Aiea Shopping Ctr, Aiea, HI 96701

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jazzaloha

          Hula Boba in Chinatown uses a non-dairy frozen milk-like ice. I thought it had a bit of an articial taste. In Kaneohe they have a nice snow ice place called Boba Berry. They do use soy milk in their snow. I like it better.

          I could imagine a place that used Boba Berry snow ice with Ailana's whole fruit toppings, etc.

        2. Thanks for the new suggestions for shave ice. I am always willing to try someplace new. However, I will always go back to Ailana until I find someplace better.

          1. hmmm...wailoa is totally my fave (mostly a textural thing) but i havent tried the top 3 on socal's list...have to get on the shave ice trail...

            i'll throw one more out there: the shave ice at the ol' wailua sugar mill up on da north shore is pretty good. they got the best syrups : all their toppings are NATURAL - made with whatever fruits etc they have in season.....no artificial anything. really tasty, sometimes chunks of fruit in there (mango, pineapple, papaya, conconut etc). the one "syrup" that totally set it off for me was their wailua chocolate topping -- he makes it with the wailua milk chocolate they produce up there, melts it and makes a chocolate sauce that is creamy, sweet, and MONEY. i mixed that with their natural coconut syrup and topped it with some condensed milk (of course) and man oh man was that a unique shave ice treat. i will say i found their ice a bit gritty, so it didnt all come together to perfection....when he asked me what i thought about it (he's proud of his stuff!) I mentioned that i thought it could improve texturally to be a finer shave, and i mentioned waiola as my personal standard for creamy texture...he agreed and mentioned that he was investing in a new machine eventually...this was a few months ago, so maybe he's rockin' some finer ice these days....dunno.

            chee!

            2 Replies
            1. re: fatstern

              the texture thing is tricky. some people strongly prefer the grainier ice, more 'traditional' asian style. to me thats not shave ice, the ultra smooth texture like at waiola is what makes hawaii's shave ice unique, but it is anything but a unanimous opinion.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                Count me in as one who likes the more traditional type of shave ice (although I don't like it when it's like mini cubes of ice---the Zoo used have a machine like that). I find that Waiola can be so smooth it veers into icee/slurpee territory, which I don't care for.

            2. Count me in as another fan of Ailana. I had the strawberry milk and haupia--two flavors that are homemade with real fruit (as social boy mentioned). We had it with condensed milk, and it was very good. I liked the texture and consistency of the ice as well. This is definitely a contender for best shave ice, imo.

              1. Aloha..
                Just had Matsumoto's shave ice with lilikoi and watermelon..no ice cream at the bottom and it was still the same thing of beauty...super fine..you mean they make shave ice finer than that?
                I saw Ailana but didn't stop..dang, wish I did.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Beach Chick

                  Ailana shave ice is finer than Matsumoto, maybe the same consistency as Waiola.

                  1. re: socal boy

                    Coming back to Honolulu next month. Is there any new recommendations for Shave ice?

                    1. re: socal boy

                      Ailana is great. Found out that the owner is from the south bay and is best friends with my wife's cousin here in Torrance. Say hi from us and enjoy the shave ice.

                  2. Just tried a new place today, St. Louis Shave Ice. Happened to be walking by and saw the sign, it was a warm afternoon...and I thought, sure give it a try.

                    First visit keep it simple, traditional. Small Strawberry, no add ons. The ice was pretty fine, none of they annoying crunch that you find in a snow cone, although not quite as smooth as Waiola or Matsumoto. The syrup was maybe a little bit too sweet, and maybe not as strawberry as it might have been, but it was still quite acceptable. And they gave a very generous portion. One other nice thing, the ice was very cold, so I didn't end up with a cup of strawberry water like happens at some places.

                    Two people behind me in line ordered with ice cream and azuki, I was kinda surprised when they put those on top instead of the bottom. More asian style, but hard to eat that way yeah? But here again they were not stingy with the add-on's. Several people got snow caps (condensed milk) and one got snow cap and chocolate syrup.... don't think i've seen that before. Kinda too bad they are opening just as school lets out for summer across the street at St Louis/ Chaminade, but maybe it will be a good time for them to get their systems down. They were a little disorganized.

                    Maybe not something I would go out of my way for, but if I were at St. Louis Drive-In, Fresh Catch, or over at W&M, I would probably go back. Oh, they are open till 7, located at 3rd & Waialae.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Just curious KMan...is it located where Mama-sans (St. Louis Drive In) is located or is it more Ewa? I'm trying to picture it in my head that particular area since going to school up the steep hill in the 60s. Need to give it a try the next time we go back home. How does it compare to Ailana's? Remember when shave ice used to only cost a dime? Maybe you don't but I do...especially at Kay's Delicatessen on 10th Avenue in Palolo Valley.

                      1. re: Clinton

                        Clinton, It's across third from St. Louis Drive-In, at that "L" shaped place with subway and the bbq place. And no, the cheapest shave ice I remember was just under a dollar.

                    2. Finely shaved ice fan here.

                      Been to Ailana and thought it was OK, not the best. Going to try Aliana and Mountain Magic this winter - will report back. I wonder if anything will be better than the shopping center guy in Kauai (it's just 1 guy in a parking lot - very finely shaved ice..the best I've ever had).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tennisboy

                        Have you been to Ice Garden? Their ice is finely shaved too. A couple posts mentioned that they feature toppings like flan and oatmeal, but they also have flavored syrups if that's what you prefer.

                        By the way, if anyone's interested in trying more Asian/Taiwanese style shave ice, I'd suggest Coffee or Tea in McCully. City Cafe on Makaloa St. is similar and offers flan. Or you could have a great meal at Sweet Home Cafe and get the delicious (complimentary!) shave ice - yum!

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                        Ice Gardens
                        Aiea Shopping Ctr, Aiea, HI 96701

                        Sweet Home Cafe
                        2334 S King St Ste 102, Honolulu, HI 96826

                      2. Had Waiola's shave ice yesterday and still think their's is the best. Ailana is OK as well as Matsumoto's but Waiola is number one, especially if you sit outside of their little store on the old bench out front. Also had half a dozen piping hot malasadas at Leonard's the same day. Life is good!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Clinton

                          Clinton, were you at the waiola street location or the one just off kapahulu?

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            We were at the Waiola Street Market location. Never been to the Kapahulu location even though we passed by it a million times. The wife had lilikoi/strawberry with ice cream and I had the plain strawberry and orange. Somehow I like the old Malolo syrup better than their version but it was great anyway. The ice was super fine and refreshing. Much finer than a slurpee or Icee. Can't believe it cost about $2.50 each not like the old days when it was 15 cents. Ha ha, times have changed.

                        2. Wait, how has no one mentioned Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha?! Even I forgot about it when I replied earlier.

                          If you're ever around Aina Haina, you must check it out. The ice is really soft and fine, and the syrups are homemade and all natural. I think they try to use local ingredients as often as they can, too. They do have a weird kale/spinach/apple syrup, but it's actually pretty good. I prefer their more normal fruit flavors though - I recommend lychee, lilikoi, and strawberry. Plus, you get two free toppings! (fresh fruit!) yumyumyumyum.

                          Also, the owner, Uncle Clay, is all heart. :)

                          I'd say it's very different shave ice from Shimazu/Waiola/Matsumoto/etc but it's definitely worth a try if you're ever in the area.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Embla

                            Uncle Clay's sound good. Making a new list of shave ice places to visit the next time I am in town.

                          2. on liliha st, just a half block mountainside of wyllie st there is john's grocery (known as 'john's store'). they serve shaved ice, probably no extras like fruit or beans, i'm not sure, haven't been there in ages. i'm no expert, but it tastes sweet and cold, and i like to see the color drain from the ice when i sip up the syrup.

                            also on liliha st i have seen some signs for shave ice @ a few mini marts, have not ever tried them.

                            1. wow, did not see that review of john's store earlier. passing by, i saw that they switched from paper cones to plastic.

                              there is a new store on kinau st that advertises shave ice. to get to it, i think you have to head mauka on alapai and continue on to kinau. i haven't tried it yet.

                              1. Went to Waiola. Still ranks pretty high. Going to Ala Moana today so will probably hit Ailana while waiiting for the Lantern Festival.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: socal boy

                                  Tried Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha. While the workers were really friendly and let us try the kale syrup (which tasted like grass but was kinda refreshing), I put it at #5 on the list. Here is revised list.

                                  1. Ailana- had this again. Still #1.
                                  2. Shimazu
                                  3. Waiola- I moved this up because I had this on recent trip. Very good.
                                  4. Ice Palace
                                  5. Uncle Clays- new to the list
                                  6. Matsumoto's
                                  7. Tropicana
                                  8. Island Snow

                                  1. re: socal boy

                                    tried Your Kitchen in Kaimuki yet? homemade syrups & fluffy ice. As far as the green tea flavored, I preferred it to Ailana's version.