Waikīkī’s New Shave Ice Spot Lemona Hawai‘i Makes Syrups From Fresh Fruits
You won’t find artificial ingredients at this new shave ice spot on Lewers Street.
Photos: Diane Lee
Many locals don’t like to venture into busy Waikīkī, but a new shave ice spot that uses all homemade syrups made from fresh fruits is worth the trip.
On Dec. 14, 2014, this husband-and-wife team of Eric Ho and Mamiko Ando opened their first business venture, Lemona Hawaiʻi, tucked behind the Courtyard Marriott on Lewers Street. The business is hidden from the busy intersection, so it’s hard to find this spot unless you happen to stumble across it, or hear about it through social media, as we did.
Lemona has a small menu with fewer than a dozen items, but the portions are large enough to split between two people. When we visited on a recent Sunday, the shop was sold out of the pomegranate shave ice, because there wasn’t much of the fruit left near the end of its season. But they offered plenty of other flavors, such as pineapple, papaya, strawberry, 100-percent Kona coffee, azuki, matcha and Meyer lemon.
The Meyer Lemon shave ice made from Meyer Lemon juice, $6.50.
You can’t tell, but there’s a touch of Meyer lemon juice added to all the fruit syrups. “By adding that, it refreshes the taste, whether strawberry or blueberry,” Ando says. Meyer lemons—these ones sourced from the Big Island—are supposed to be sweeter than typical lemons you’ll find at the grocery store.
But the signature Meyer lemon shave ice is still a work in progress. I winced after taking a bite. I expected a sweet, refreshing lemonade flavor, but instead got an intense tart blast. Ho offered to add condensed milk, which helped bring down the sourness. On the plus side, I really liked the nice touch of fresh lemon pieces.
There are only a few toppings offered. For $1, you can top off your shave ice with Hokkaido azuki beans, which are boiled for at least five hours. Most shave ice spots use condensed milk out of a can. At Lemona, condensed milk is made fresh from organic milk. The fruity shave-ice orders already come with a scoop of fruit, but you can add more for an extra 75 cents.
The papaya shave ice with slices of papaya, $6.50.
Of course, not every shave ice order requires a topping. The papaya shave ice is a great example. The fresh pieces of papaya and creamy juice made it tasty—adding more toppings would take away from the papaya’s sweet, buttery flavor.
The matcha green tea shave ice topped with azuki beans and condensed milk, $7.50.
We fell in love with the matcha (green tea) with azuki and condensed milk at first bite. Lemona uses Ito En’s ceremonial-grade, premium matcha powder. The shave ice was just right—not too bitter, overly sweet nor powdery. We cleaned the bowl in less than five minutes.
Lemona’s shave ice isn’t as soft or fine as popular shave ice spots Shimazu or Waiola, and the shave ice melts quickly, so be prepared to scarf it down before it turns into soup. Still, the homemade syrups and fresh fruits distinguish Lemona from other shave ice stands that use artificial flavors and sweeteners.
Lemona is new, so the owners are still experimenting with different flavors. Keep an eye out for new flavors when fruits are in season. May we suggest Haden mango or watermelon?