Oahu's Best Shave Ice

Islands-style shave ice (never shaved ice—it's a pidgin thing) is said to have been born when neighborhood kids hung around the icehouse, waiting to pounce on the shavings from large blocks of ice, carved with ultrasharp Japanese planes that created an exceptionally fine-textured granita.

In the 1920s, according to the historian for syrup manufacturer Malolo Beverages & Supplies, Ltd., Chinese vendors developed sweet fruit concentrates to pour over the ice.

The evolution continued with mom-and-pop shops adding their own touches, such as hiding a nugget of Japanese sweet bean paste in the center; placing a small scoop of ice cream at the bottom; and adding li hing powder (a Chinese seasoning used on preserved fruits).

There's nothing better on a sticky hot day. Here are two great places to try:

Waiola. Waiola Shave Ice, off Kapahulu Avenue, is known for its finely shaved ice and wide variety of flavors, and more recently has become famous through its regular appearances in the reboot of Hawaii Five-0. In real life, the service is a bit surly and the prices are slightly higher than for most other shave ice, but it's close to Waikiki. 525 Kapahulu Ave., Kapahulu.

Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha. Located in a strip mall in the residential neighborhood of Aina Haina, Uncle Clay’s is a happy place. They specialize in house-made all-natural syrups made from cane sugar and locally sourced fruits. They’ve even got a flavor called "kalespin"—a combination of kale and spinach. Aina Haina Shopping Center, 820 W. Hind Dr., Aina Haina (right off Kalanianaole Hwy.)

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