Discover an Unexpected Frozen Treat in the Corner of a Korean Supermarket
En Hakkore Coffee Bar whips up amazing Korean shave ice.
Photos: Mari Taketa
Apples are on sale the day I discover Honolulu’s best Korean shave ice. I’ve been led to En Hakkore, a hidden coffee bar in a corner of Ke‘eaumoku Supermarket, by a tip from my hair stylist, Anna. She knows I like the icy mounds with fruit, sweet azuki beans and milk infused with sugar and nutty roasted grains.
“This one is gooood,” she says, jabbing the air with her scissors for emphasis. “Best.”
Anna hardly ever stabs the air. “What makes it best?” I ask.
“Mmmmm,” she pauses, at a loss. “I don’t know how to explain. Just best.”
So I’m sitting next to the fruit section in Ke‘eaumoku Supermarket when a tray appears, loaded with a demitasse of freshly pulled espresso and a full-size ramen bowl heaping with icy jewels. There are grapes, strawberries, kiwis, blueberries. Small pillows of soft mochi and strips of even softer, melted mochi. A thick layer of whole-bean azuki hiding in the middle. And my favorite part, slivered almonds and crunchy walnut halves nestled in the sweet milk.
En Hakkore’s Korean shave ice, or patbingsu, is easily the biggest I’ve seen in Honolulu. Made to serve two or three people, it ends up almost entirely in the belly of just one. It doesn’t need bitter jolts of espresso, as I’ve been instructed to drizzle on top when I point out that I didn’t order espresso. I end up drinking it as a warm and perfect counterpoint.
You can find patbingsu up and down the restaurant-rich Ke‘eaumoku corridor. But Anna was right. You’ll find the best at En Hakkore.
En Hakkore, 835 Ke‘eaumoku St., 250-3513, $9.99