The snowy treat known as shave ice (not “shaved”) came to Hawaiʻi with the Japanese and Okinawan immigrants who worked on the sugar plantations in the late 1860s. By the mid-20th century, the modern version of shave ice, with its rainbow of flavors and additions such as ice cream and “snowcaps” of sweetened condensed milk, was typically found at humble Japanese-American grocery stores such as M. Matsumoto on Oahu’s North Shore. Today, you can expect even more flavors, gourmet natural syrups, and options such as chewy mochi balls or sweet red adzuki beans. Here are our favorite spots for shave ice on Kauai.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Feature Photo: Waikomo Shave Ice Facebook
Jojo’s Shave Ice
Fresh ingredients and large portions for a great price! At Jojo’s, the size options are Da Kine (28oz) or Big Kahuna (40oz). They have 16 flavor combinations, but if you’d like to invent your own, go for it! You’ll just need to decide your favorite mix of flavors, ice cream and toppings. Additional locations in Waimea and Coconut Market Place. The Hanalei location is open daily 12am to 7pm.
The Fresh Shave
Fresh Shave names its hand-crafted syrups made from local organic ingredients after mustache styles—the Handle Bar, the Chevron and the Fu Manchu are a few favorites. All you have to do is decide what style “mustache” is your favorite! Open Monday through Saturday 12pm to 5pm. Closed Sunday.
Waikomo Shave Ice
Waikomo offers fresh fruit and cream toppings in addition to many great flavors. This is a healthy and refreshing dessert in your compostable cup. The utensils are eco-friendly as well—this is a plastic-free company. So enjoy the tasty treat and feel good about eating it too. Open Saturday through Thursday 12pm to 5pm. Closed Friday.
Wailua Shave Ice
Picnic tables shaded by umbrellas set the tone for this laid-back food truck. Wailua Shave Ice has lots of flavors and toppings to choose from for their traditional shave ice made with fresh local fruit. There are also tasty smoothies and acai bowls on the menu, in case you want to chase your shave ice with something just as fresh and tasty. Open daily from 12pm to 8:30pm.
Wishing Well Shave Ice
You can’t miss this colorful food truck with the wooden roof. The space may be small but Wishing Well is scooping locally sourced goodness to fill up your cup. They focus on local and sustainable here, so you know your cones and utensils are all Earth friendly. It’s a delicious treat you can feel good about. Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm.