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Hawaiian Shaved Ice in SD?

Been looking around for good shaved ice, anything like Matsumoto shaved ice in Hawaii. Very finely shaved ice, fluffier than snow.

Tried places like Tea Station but it's okay. Same with places in LA. The difference is all in the machine you use. I know someone has this machine because during Obon and other events they're making it and it's decent.

Just a long shot, but maybe someone knows! If you go to Hawaii you gotta try it..

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  1. They have shaved ice at Tea Garden on Convoy. Might want to give it a try but I doubt it'll be up to the standard that you are looking for. I've had it and it's pretty good, but nothing extraordinary IMO.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mliew

      The last (and really only) shaved ice that I ever enjoyed in San Diego was that produced by the now-defunct concession in the Mitsuwa Marketplace now occupied by Kayaba. However even while it was available it was overpriced (I think it may have been $7-8?), but even with the high tariff it was still close enough to what I craved to make it worthwhile.

      Perhaps your best option these days might be checking out the offerings at the various Hawaiian plate lunch places scattered throughout the county. Shaved ice in a Hawaiian context promises to be more than just crushed ice.

      The other possibility would be to check out the various offerings at the Obon festivals (summertime only), though the quality will vary depending upon the quality (expense) of the machine they use... What is now known as Hawaiian shaved ice was introduced by the Japanese into Hawaii as a version of their milk Kintoki (milk & sweetened Azuki beans) Kaikikoori (shaved ice), the Japanese version using sweetened condensed milk instead of the scoop of vanilla ice cream of the Hawaiian version.

      BTW in Los Angeles there would be many more options, but a sentimental favorite of mine would be the milk Kintoki at Mitsuru Cafe in Little Tokyo Plaza, the same place that also bakes the Taiyaki in their window. (Other options include Hanaichimonme in the Mitsuwa building, or in a pinch the Mikawaya in Little Tokyo Plaza...)

    2. The Pacific Islander Festival is coming up in Mission Bay Park on the weekend of September 25-26. Bet there'll be some there, though don't know of what quality it will be.


      2 Replies
      1. Yes, we have had Matsumoto in Oahu and make a point of stopping there on our "drive around the island in circles" trip. Haven't really looked hard for shaved ice here in SD. Report back if you find any!

        2 Replies
        1. re: daantaat

          Just had Matsumoto's shave ice of lilikoi and watermelon..no ice cream at the bottom.
          If we can only patent that machine and bring it here to SD..
          Best shave ice evah..

          1. re: Beach Chick

            you didn't put azuki beans at the bottom either? what a shame!! ice cream and beans make it better!

        2. The shaved ice at Island Style cafe is pretty good. Great place for Hawaiian food too.


          Island Style Cafe
          5950 Santo Rd, San Diego, CA 92124

          1. Donut Star in mission hills off washington. Totally random never would think it would have good shaved ice but man this is the best I can find stateside. Big, fluffy and melts in your mouth. True shaved ice, I recommend tigers blood and pina colada. The only thing is that they aren't traditional in the sense of offering ice cream at the bottom or snowcapped but they have really good shaved ice.

            1. I found this place on google, has anyone tried it yet?! Can't tell if they have a storefront or not, there's no specific address but it looks like the most authentic I've seen yet in San Diego. Think I'm going to have to hunt them down!


              2 Replies
              1. re: ragamuffin10

                From reading their website and their Facebook page it seems they are a mobile vendor who shows up at local sporting events, car shows, street fairs, public schools and the like. Your best bet would be to contact them directly using the contact info on the "Contact Us" page of their website. If you do try some of their shave ice it would be great if you could give us your opinion of it.

                1. re: nileg

                  ...or follow their Tweets. Looks like they announce their appearances, largely in North County, on their Twitter stream.

              2. Thanks for the ideas, I did find one at a festival for a local Japanese preschool. Pretty good! Strawberry and condensed milk - serve the toppings yourself. =)

                I did some more research and found the same model I used as a kid - a hand ice shaver for about $15 including shipping. This one made by pampered chef. I wouldn't recommend the electric one by Hamilton beach, which also costs more.

                The company this time was http://www.realhawaiianshaveice.com/ - they got their machine from Japan apparently. Looking online, I recognize it as the Hatsuyuki shaver which retails at $700 (apparently they make $2300 models too!). I think this is the same one I tend to see at Japanese festivals in SD.

                Roman emperors had couriers run to the mountains and carry back snow in sacks to make snow cones at great expense. Two thousand years later, a good snow cone machine still cost a fortune! I guess the main difference is now we can mass produce it to lower costs haha.

                1. If you want to make your own shaved ice and have an ice machine, here's some tips I found over the years:

                  If you use a syrup, use that first. Drain it over the ice repeatedly, because you want it to get to the bottom. Melon and fruit syrups are popular choices.

                  Condensed milk works best out of a "kethup bottle" (cylyndrical kind) with a small nozzle - drizzle it back and forth one way, then criss cross the other. This will get you good and even coverage and have a good texture as it "catches" the ice in small clumps. Do this after the syrup, if any.

                  The water you use makes a difference. Chlorine in tap water neutralizes flavor and leaves a faint odor. I usually use Trader Joe's New Zealand water or Fiji.

                  Some people like other toppings, but it's hard to go wrong with some syrup and generous condensed milk on top.

                  1. Penguin Yogurt - Santee
                    It's next door to Michael's grillI in the same strip mall. I have no Hawaiian shaved ice benchmark, so I can't say whether it's good or not. I do love their yogurt, however.

                    1. Island Style Cafe
                      5950 Santo Road
                      San Diego, CA 92124

                      Their shaved ice is GIANT and delicious. You almost need 2 or 3 people to get through it. Thier food is really good too. Plate lunch style with a little bit of foo foo fancy.

                      Island Style Cafe
                      5950 Santo Rd, San Diego, CA 92124

                      1. Tried Kam Shaved Ice at the Rancho Bernardo Farmer's Market on Sunday. It's the real thing, in fact better than the one we had at KCC Farmer's Market in Oahu. The machine is an industrial grade ice shaver and makes the ice better than snow. $3 each, which is a bit cheaper than Hawaii on average.

                        Also while we were there we tried the wood fired pizzas this guy was making, perfect. They're small individual pizzas, about $5 each. There's also a jumper for the kids at $1.50 per 5 minutes so you can actually eat what you just bought.

                        Person making the shaved ice apparently frequents Hawaii and lamented at the lack of Hawaiian shaved ice in SD. Thank you!

                        RB Farmer's market is 10am-4pm near Pearl, at 16826 Bernardo Center Drive, San Diego, CA 92128.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: royaljester

                          Does Kam Shave Ice have azuki beans and ice cream to go with the shave ice?

                          1. re: daantaat

                            My wife bought it so I'm not sure, but I don't think they do. We just ordered plain Hawaiian shaved ice. I was hoping for condensed milk but the shaved ice turned out great.

                            1. re: daantaat

                              According to there website they have adzuki beans, mochi, ect.
                              Thnx for the review royaljester, I'm heading down to the farmers market this weekend!

                          2. Just saw a new Shave Ice place on Scripps Poway Pkwy in the Vons shopping center. I haven't had it.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: daimyo

                              We just went there this past weekend and loved it. It's called Wahine Kai Shave Ice and it's the real deal. The ice is light and fluffy like well made shave ice should be. You can get ice cream, condensed milk, azuki beans and even lychee and li hing mui powder. If I had a complaint it would be that it is a bit costly but I will gladly pay a premium price for a great product.


                              1. re: daimyo

                                Just tried Wahine Kai. Overall, pretty good. Got mango syrup with vanilla ice cream, azuki beans and li hing powder. Li hing added a nice salty sourness to the mango. Syrup wasn't overly sweet, a big plus, but could have used more flavor, IMO. Even tasting the mango part w/o the li hing was on the subtler side, which got increasingly more subtle as my mouth froze up.

                                I have to disagree w/ jbol on the characteristics of the ice. I found it more granular and icy, rather than light and fluffy like at Ailiana's Shave Ice in Honolulu.

                                Have to give them points for offering li hing. However, I wish they had matcha green tea syrup and green tea ice cream!

                                1. re: daantaat

                                  Daantaat -I'm guessing the blades needed sharpening because I've been twice already in a week or two and the ice was really fluffy both times. I'll have to agree with you on the syrup as the flavor was subtle but I was fine with it, enjoying the melted ice, vanilla ice cream, azuki beans and lilikoi.

                                  1. re: jbol

                                    you're probably right. we'll definitely return and hopefully the ice will be fluffy this time. Will have to try lilikoi next time!