If you’ve never experienced the glory of shave ice, you’re in for a serious treat.
Shave ice is a Hawaii dessert consisting of shaved ice that’s been covered in syrup and toppings. Don’t confuse it with a snow cone, which is made with crushed ice, and whatever you do, don’t call it shaved ice. It’s shave ice. Got it? Good. Because there’s nothing like grabbing a bowlful after the beach.
Some people like the ice shaved very fine; others prefer a chunkier consistency. Some prefer the classic flavors; others prefer newer, tropical or even organic syrups. Then there are the toppings, which might include a “snow cap,” or sweetened condensed milk; li hing powder, which is made from salty dried plums; a scoop of ice cream; or simply fresh fruit. Every truck and stand around Kauai has its signature flavors, and though it’s worth following their suggestions, it’s also important to choose your own adventure. Don’t worry, once you try one flavor, you can experiment with the others.
You could spend a whole week on Kauai trying a different shave ice shop every day. From Hanalei Wishing Well to Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa, here are six of the best spots to try on your next visit.
1. JoJo’s Shave Ice
JoJo’s has two locations on the island—one in Waimea and one in Hanalei—so there’s ample opportunity to try this Kauai classic. Flavors are all over the map, ranging from coffee to coconut to green watermelon to mai tai, and you can add a scoop of “mac nut” or vanilla ice cream to any order.
2. Shave Ice Tege Tege
Tege Tege’s style originates from Japan and you’ll see them use a hand-crank shave ice machine brought over from Japan. All their ingredients are organic and made with fresh fruits such as mango, passion fruit, and even dragon fruit. Tege Tega has some of the most unique flavors such as hibiscus, lychee, and Tahitian gooseberry and you have the option of adding in a scoop of ice cream.
3. The Fresh Shave
This spot is known for its organic ingredients, fresh produce, home–made syrups, and hand-cranked ice machine. The flavors are playfully named after moustache styles, like The Fu Manchu, which is bananas, strawberry puree and cream. Each handcrafted shave ice is served with a mustache–adorned straw. They don’t call it The Fresh Shave for nothing.
4. Wailua Shave Ice
Made with fresh local fruit, Wailua’s shave ice is not to be missed. Try the Coconut x Coconut x Coconut, a triple threat of coconut milk, haupia (a sweet coconut pudding) foam and roast coconut flakes. The truck has become so popular, it’s expanded to Portland and San Diego. Just pray your city’s next.
5. Hanalei Wishing Well
This North Shore hot spot offers classic syrups, as well as organic options, and it’s hard to go wrong with either. You can get a scoop of ice cream underneath or a snow cap—a layer of sweetened condensed milk—on top. Not a bad a way to end a day at the beach.
6. Shave Ice Paradise
Also on Kauai’s North Shore, Shave Ice Paradise is another standout. The pro move order here is a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream underneath the shave ice. If you’re really serious, try the Bali Hai Sunset: sweet Asian plum, mango and passion fruit syrups on the ice, with that nutty ice cream on the bottom.
7. Uncle’s Shave Ice
With locations in Poipu and Lihue, you’ll enjoy Uncle’s twice as much. A wide selection of flavors and toppings provides choices for all tastes. Shave Snow is their latest addition to the menu. It’s a Taiwan-inspired treat with a unique combination of milk, water, flavoring, and sugar frozen together…no syrups required on top!