Street food review: Waiola Shave Ice

With Hawaii’s year round warm weather, staying cool is part of daily life.  The local specialty is “shave ice”.  This is an evolved version of our community fair “shaved ice”.   “Shaved ice” tends to be course ground ice in a paper cup, drizzled with flavored syrup.  Hawaii “shave ice” is a very fine ice that is mechanically shaved off a large block of solid ice.  It’s served in a bowl, often on top of vanilla ice cream, mochi balls, or sweet azuki beans, then drizzled with flavored syrup.

The most well-known purveyor of shave ice on Oahu is Matsumoto’s store.  But not to be out done, the Waiola Store in the McCully-Moiliili  neighborhood does an excellent shave Ice, and it’s within walking distance of Waikiki (as opposed to Matsumoto’s, which is in Haleiwa, a good 45 minute drive out of Honolulu).


Waiola store is a lonely corner convenience store in the middle of a residential area, about three blocks from the nearest transit route. The take out window is decorated with a dizzying array of options on the multiple menus.

I opted for strawberry and lilikoi shave ice with azuki beans and ice cream (lilikoi = passionfruit)

This ice is shaved very fine.  It’s like light snow.


The azuki beans are sweet and add some texture to the dessert. The creaminess from the vanilla ice cream is a nice contrast to the azuki beans.


It doesn’t take long for the heat to melt this cool treat.

While you can take this to go, it’s probably easier to sit down on the benches outside the store, and enjoy your shave ice.  Especially since this place is in the middle of a quiet residential area… there’s not much to see for 3-4 blocks.  And if you’re driving, this stands to make a very unpleasant mess in the car if you come to a quick stop.

Waiola Shave Ice on Urbanspoon

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