Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Waiola Shave Ice

Alright, alright. Don't get all worked up about the fact that I put up a Matsumoto's post without putting up a Waiola Shave Ice post. I got you.

If you ask any local or regular visitor to the island of Oahu what his or her favorite shave ice joint is, you'll probably get one of two answers: (1) Matsumoto's, or (2) Waiola Shave Ice. Both have a strong following, and both distribute their renditions of shave ice from the inside of a shanty market.

Like Matsumoto's, Waiola has a large menu that caters to whatever flavor you might be craving. And like Matsumoto's, Waiola offers azuki beans and condensed milk.

Unlike Matsumoto's, Waiola does not have as many crowds upon crowds of tourists looking to check off one more famous Oahu destination. Not yet at least. And unlike Matsumoto's, Waiola does not have a mountain of paraphernalia. What Waiola does have is a strange, oversized representation of shave ice tucked away in a dark, musty corner. Do those eyes look like eyes of desperation to anyone else? Are they just smeyes? Is that a dagger going through its head? So many questions, such a dark corner.

Most importantly, Waiola has one thing that Matsumoto's does not: mochi balls. Enormous white and pink mochi balls. And the best way to include these mochi balls in your tasty treat is through an Azuki Bowl.

The Azuki Bowl is a beautiful concoction of shaved milk ice (yup, not just shave ice covered with milk), azuki beans, condensed milk, and mochi balls. The milk ice is smooth, slightly crunchy, and light, while the azuki beans are comforting, slightly sweet, and rich. The condensed milk reminds you that you're eating a dessert and the mochi balls add a nice chew to each and every bite. So, so good.

Unfortunately, I was only able to hit up Waiola once while I was on Oahu. One look at the menu, however, makes clear that Waiola has everything Matsumoto's has, and then some. Milk ice? Awesome. Lilikoi cream? Want. Banana cream and custard? Check. Li hing mui seeds and sauce? Yes, please. The list goes on.

Don't let this whirlwind of options deter you from going to Matsumoto's though. Matsumoto's can't be beat when it comes to the pure basics of Hawaiian shave ice. If you find yourself really struggling with which shave ice joint to hit up, leave your decision up to geography. Make the trek up to Matsumoto's in conjunction with a trip up to the North Shore. Indulge in Waiola's offerings when you're in Waikiki or its surrounding neighborhoods. Both are awesome and you won't be disappointed with either.

Oh, and if your experience is anything like mine, you might witness an intense argument in Mandarin between the husband and wife owners over who the real boss of the joint is. Seriously. A ten minute argument. What neither of them knows is that neither of them is the boss. Angela Bower is. But really, who cares who the boss is. At the end of the day, the two of them run a kickass shave ice operation.

Yikes, this is why I try to avoid writing posts when I'm tired and delirious. And craving shave ice.

Waiola Shave Ice
2135 Waiola Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 949-2269

GET: Azuki Bowl.

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