When in Hawaii, make sure to eat like the locals. We ate Poke, a raw tuna salad served as an appetizer, pancakes made with pineapple and macadamia nuts, Hawaiian BBQ with warm macaroni salad, but the Hawaiian food tradition that we loved the most was having shave ice.
It is called “shave ice”, not “shaved ice” in Hawaii
Shave ice traces its history to Japan, when Japanese plantation workers immigrated to the Hawaiian islands to work the sugar cane plantations and pineapple fields. They brought their traditional ice shave dessert with them, by using machetes to shave ice from ice blocks. The Japanese poured different flavored juices or syrups on ice. They enjoyed shave ice to cool down from the hot tropical Hawaiian climate and back in the days shave ice was sold only on Sundays, the only day the plantation workers had off.
We had shave ice almost every day on our trip
My Strange Family ate a lot of shave ice on our trip, and sometimes we had shave ice before dinner. Each time we mixed and matched different flavor combinations, sometimes with ice cream on the bottom, other times with a snowcap (sweetened condensed milk drizzled over the top). We tried many different locations, but in the end these were our three favorite locations.
- Local Boys Shave Ice, established in 2003, with a lot of love and very little money. They have two locations on Maui, one on the west and the other in the south. The Big Baby size, was more than enough and I enjoyed the Local Girl combination which includes, Tiger’s Blood (Coconut, and strawberry) Li Hing Mui (salty dried plum) and Blue Vanilla.
- Uncle’s Shave Ice located in Poipu on Kauai, their menu was huge, and I opted for ice cream on the bottom and rainbow shave ice on top. However, what sets this shave ice place different from the rest, is they have Shave Snow. Shave snow is inspired by Tiawanese shave ice, and is a unique combination of milk, water, flavoring, and sugar frozen together. No syrups required on top and it shaves into ribbons of creamy goodness.
- Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice has six locations on Maui and I think we had shave ice at three of them! It is hands down my favorite shave ice on the islands. Their ice has an extremely fine shave, the flavors are great and taste like the real thing, and the workers are warm & friendly with the “ALOHA” spirit. Plus they have the cutest shave ice picnic tables at many of their locations, that perfectly hold the cup so spillage is at a minimum.
Oh and just so you know shave ice resembles a snow cone, but snow cones are made with crushed ice, rather than shaved, ice. Plus it is made with shaved ice, but it is called “shave ice”, not “shaved ice” in Hawaii.