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Jun 15, 2006 01:28 PM


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Is there anywhere in SoCal that's got a good facsimile of Hawaiian Shave Ice? Preferrably with good ice cream, azuki beans, lots of good syrup choices and properly shaved ice that is powdery in texture (as opposed to the granular kind found in sno-cones).

I'm not talking about the Taiwanese shaved ice you can find at places like Shau Mei and what not. Those are good, but different (for one, they are served on a plate).

I want mine on a cone, with a vanilla ice cream base, some azuki beans, topped with a nice mound of shave ice and then drizzled with rainbow syrup.

If you've ever been to Masumoto (north shore of Oahu) or Wailoa in Honolulu, you'll know what I am talking about despite my very poor description.

Any leads?

Thanks as always.

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  1. Forget it...doesn't exist here and I've been looking around LA area for years and been to all the Hawaiian festivals and places. Most places use the electric ice grinder which don't give you the "shaved" ice texture.

    #1 thing about Matsumoto's is they make their own syrups from scratch using real fruits and sugar. Most syrups these days are made from artificial flavorings and cheap corn syrup sweetener.

    (pictured rainbow snow cone with ice cream $1.95)


    12 Replies
    1. re: K

      Most places sell shave ice as a secondary item and that's why you'll never find the kind they serve like Matsumoto's here.

      There's an art to making the shave ice. Besides the machine, part of it is preparing the ice. The ice is "tempered" which means its left out so it isn't rock hard when they "shave" it-- its a snowy-slushy texture. Who knows....maybe its the water in Hawaii too.

      1. re: K

        Thanks K.

        Yeah, it's not just the blades and shaving aparatus, I think the way the ice block is formed is different in Hawaii ... maybe something with the high humidity and temp? Or like you say ... maybe it's the water. Sort of like how NY Pizza is just 'different' ...

        1. re: ipse dixit

          Hawaii water is very soft, too, being I think 100% rainwater, and no limestone in the geology anyway, while our water is rock hard. I don't know if that has anything to do with it at all, but I wouldn't be surprised. I have noticed that the ice in my trays here is a lot more brittle than the stuff I made in Tennessee.

        2. re: K

          I don't know about that. I think I recall, at Waiola, that they just pull the ice blocks out of the freezer and put them into the machine.

          1. re: sku

            Ya, ice is hard. If you leave it out it melts -- water. I have been to Matsumoto's and also had a a true shave ice at Navy Pier, Chicago. The blade is what "shaves" the ice. See the link below. I saw these machines at Matsumoto's and Chicago. The water is not an issue. The amount of syrups used drown the water anyway. If you do not see the right machine you will not see shave ice because it is the snow flake texture of the shave ice that will sponge-up the syrup to create the taste/texture sensation. A snow cone has larger chunks of ice and therefore does not come colse to sponging the syrup until you get to the bottom of the cone -- a melted slush. Maybe then the quest for LA shave ice is to find a place with the right machine. Has anyone seen these machines in LA?


        3. re: K

          That cone brings back some happy childhood memories!

          1. re: K

            That looks so good. PBS had this special called The Ice Cream Show, where they went around the country to places that sold ice cream and different frozen desserts. They hit up Matsumotos and I've always wanted to try one after seeing that. With ice cream on the bottom, of course.

            I remember seeing Shave Ice on the menu at the Local Place in Torrance. They also had ice cream as an option but I don't recall if they had the azuki beans as well. I highly doubt they make their own syrups.

            1. re: melonbar

              Yeah, home-made syrups are key! There was a place I went to a number of times (can't remember the name, but it was 6 or so blocks down the street from Leonard's malasadas in Honolulu) that had great home made syrups. The litchi was divine but the stand out was the li hing mui with small bits of the li hing plum that would end up embedded in the ice. Yummm.

              1. re: L

                Waiola Shave Ice...same kind of shave ice texture ass Matsumoto's.

                1. re: K

                  I know this is an old discussion but was reading this and you are so right that is Waiola Shave Ice. I love that place. I wish in Los Angeles there was one of these. I like it better than Matsumoto's though.

                2. re: L

                  In my frequent visits to Oahu, I have come upon a few places that aI consider the best for Shave Ice:

                  Tropicana is the place you are probably thinking of near Leonard's. It is my favorite, and a little better than Waiola and really better than Matsumoto's. If the the Shave Ice doesnt' remind you of a lighter textured sorbet, it is not that good. That's what makes Tropicana and Waiola the best.

                  I haven't found anything close to that quality here in LA, but I welcome suggestions and recommendations.

              2. re: K

                No, they exist. Try Get Shaved.

              3. The one place I know of is in Simi Valley and it's called Tutu's Hawaiian Ice Cream Shack. They sell authentic shaved ice with all the fixin's.

                4332 Cochran Street, Simi Valley - 805-522-6922

                1. I know it's not exactly what you're looking for, but there is a lunch counter place in the Little Tokyo plaza in downtown LA ... across from the fountain ... serves ice that is actually shaved. I definitely don't recall them having vanilla ice cream as a base, and I get the feeling their syrups are not homemade. BUT they have the beans, because they make desserts with them. Maybe you could ask them to mix them together? Worth a shot if you are in the area ...

                  1. I sure haven't been able to find it in So. Cal. Even made a trip to the Lappert's in Hermosa Beach, but they just serve regular snow cones which are completely unremarkable and have nothing to do with real shave ice.

                    Also not shave ice, but good anyway (in contrast to the Hermosa Lappert's) is Raspados Zacatecas (422 N. Ford Blvd., (323) 264-7651). This place makes Mexican crushed ice, so the ice doesn't have the powdery/slushy quality of shave ice, but, they make their own homemade syrups (pineapple, mango, strawberry, peach, watermelon, etc.) with chunks of cooked fruit pulp suspended in them. Best fruit syrups I've had, actually. (Now if you could combine RZ's syrups with real shave ice, you'd really have something.)

                    1. The only place I know of that has Hawaiian-inspired shave ice is Teri Hawaii in Gardena. The have a decent selection of syrups, though not an extensive list. They have lilikoi - so its not you generic 5 flavor snow cone options. You can get ice cream in the bottom. I don't remember if they have azuki beans or not. My inclination is that the do not. It is NOT Matusmoto quality, but the ice was actually shaved last time I was there. It is comparable quality to shave ice you would get while walking around Waikiki, ok/good for Hawaii - great (due to no other options) if you are in LA.

                      Teri Hawaii
                      1425 W. Artesia Blvd. #34 Gardena, CA 90248
                      Phone (310) 327-030

                      The food there does not impress me. Fortunately, Gardena has an abundance of Hawaiian places. I recommend Bob's Okazu-Ya on Vermont or Bruddah's on Gardena Blvd, both 5 minutes from Teri Hawaii. Get a lunch then head over to Teri for dessert.

                      Bob's Okazu-ya
                      16814 S Vermont Ave
                      Gardena, CA 90247
                      (310) 515-2250

                      1033 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247-4957

                      Two more notes, they have a to-go option. I believe they similar containers, but the people who do not get it to go have shave ice that resembes K's picture. The to go order is packed, and a lid is put on it. The packing increases the spead of the ice melting and refreezing in little chunks, so do not get it to go.

                      Note 2: They sell island CD's there, so if your old IZ cd is scratched, you can always pick up a new one. :-)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: ek

                        Thank god someone finally mentioned Teri Hawaii. Ipse, go here and ignore all previous comments. :)

                        Personally, I haven't scoured L.A. in search of better shave ice, but Teri Hawaii is probably the best I've run into thus far. This is a spot that I've been frequenting since the 80's.

                        In addition, I think it's a bit ridiculous to compare it to Matsumoto's. Shave ice is really so simple, that there are really only three ingredients that can make or break it: 1) fineness of ice, 2) syrup quality, and 3) ice cream/azuki quality. For example, I've had great ice with crappy syrup, horrible ice with great syrup, syrup with a bad aftertaste, lame ice cream, etc. This is more of a simple treat than a delicacy, so once a shop nails these three items, then you have good shave ice. I think comparisons are better justified when the food is more complex.

                        Lastly, IMO, Teri Hawaii...Matsumoto's...(and Waiola)...same stuff. BUT...I would pick Teri Hawaii over Matsumoto's because they serve their ice in a nice-sized cup, unlike Matsumoto's which serves their ice in that ridiculous paper cone=major spillage on a hot day. :)

                        1. re: Mike Q

                          After posting my report, I gave myself the craving for some shave ice. Actually, with the hot weather, I already had the craving.

                          Got a stawberry, lilikoi, pineapple shave ice with ice cream.

                          I had remembered incorrectly, they do have azuki beans available! Double bonus for next visit.

                          1. re: Mike Q

                            Ah, you don't get it. Eating a towering shave ice without spillage (and without that stupid plastic holder they automatically hand you) is the sign of an expert shave ice eater. It's a set of skills that has to be developed from years of eating tall, perfectly packed but feathery cones of ice on blazingly hot days.

                          2. re: ek

                            We went to Gardena today looking for shave ice. Sakuraya said they don't have any :-( , but the nice girl working there said go to Teri's, like you said. :-)

                            Picked out pineapple and lilikoi syrups, plus beans and ice cream-$3.25. Very nice soft ice texture-well saturated with syrup, although my husband said he likes it even snowier/fluffier. I thought it was super, especially at the bottom where the creamy and fruity flavors mixed together.

                            Thanks guys, it really hit the spot!