Travel the World Through 5 Shave Ice Spots
Where to find shave ice from Mexico to Taiwan on O‘ahu.
Photos: Martha Cheng
Every culture that knows hot weather has its own shave ice. While Hawai‘i’s own color-drenched shave ice is the most ubiquitous here, there are plenty of other multicultural options, so you can travel the world, from Mexico to Taiwan, while keeping cool.
Korean: Pat bing soo at En Hakkore
Korean shave ice may have its origins in Japanese kakigori, but like the rest of Korean cuisine, it veers more maximalist. For the best example of this, head to En Hakkore, where the soft, silky ice is topped with red bean and condensed milk (so far, nothing earth-shattering here), roasted soybean powder—just a touch salty—and fresh fruit, sliced almonds, and a shot of espresso that comes on the side. Pour it over the entire bowl—it’s like an affogato, Korean-style.
$8.99, En Hakkore, inside 88 Pal Pal Super Market, 825 Keʻeaumoku St., (808) 230-3513
Taiwan: Snow Ice at FrostCity
Most of the world shaves ice and then douses it in sweetened syrup, but at some point, a baobing (shave ice) vendor in Taiwan wondered: What would happen if you flavored the water first and then froze it and shaved it? And hence, snow ice was born. The result is sheets of flavored ice, thin like phyllo. FrostCity offers it in flavors including lychee, mango and black sesame, and unlike other spots, relies on real fruit rather than artificial flavors.
$4.95 and up, 2570 S. Beretania St., (808) 947-3328
Philippines: Halo halo at Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats
Here are all the ingredients that go into a halo halo at Magnolia: ube ice cream, puffed rice, jackfruit, coconut gel, sugar palm fruit, coconut strings, sweetened red bean, bananas, evaporated milk and, of course, shaved ice, though coarser than the local style. Really, how could you resist? (Magnolia also recently debuted mini halo halo, so now you have no excuse.)
$5 and up, multiple locations
Photo courtesy of 808 Mangonadas
Mexico: Mangonada at 808 Mangonadas
I have yet to find raspas, Mexican shave ice, in Honolulu, but recently stumbled across another Mexican hot weather treat via the 808 Mangonada food truck. Tasting a mangonada is realizing how different cultures can arrive at the same idea independently. It’s like a li hing mango margarita turned up to 11: mango sorbet layered with chamoy—Mexico’s version of crack seed, often found in liquid form—then sprinkled with chile powder and served with a tamarind-coated straw. Chase down the 808 Mangonada truck to taste it.
$6 and up, instagram.com/808_mangonadas
Japan: Kakigori at Matcha Café Maiko
Local-style shave ice is said to have descended from Japanese kakigori, and while these days you can get green tea syrup on your shave ice at all the local spots, the best rendition of a classic uji kintoki is at Matcha Café Maiko. Uji kintoki, named after Uji, a city in the Kyoto prefecture where premium green tea is grown, pairs matcha with azuki on shave ice. I like to go all out with the version crowned with matcha soft serve. It is, after all, extra hot these days.
$7.80, 2310 Kūhiō Ave., #143, (808) 369-8031, matchacafe-maiko.com