Shave ice may look like a snow cone to the American kids or maybe halo-halo to the Filipino kids, but this is no ordinary mound of ice.
The texture of shave ice (don’t call it shaved with an -ed unless you want to out yourself as a non-local in Hawaii) is much lighter and airy, like taking a scoop out of a cloud. The texture and weight in your mouth is gentler than the freshest, powdery snow on a Midwestern morning. When topped with your choice of flavored syrups, condensed milk, mochi, adzuki beans, and/or ice cream, suddenly the ice cream man just got bested as the antidote to a hot day (of which there are many in Hawaii).
Waiola’s (Moilili) shave ice is rumored to be the best in Town, with Aoki’s and Matsumoto’s duking out for the title just a few stores away from each other in Haleiwa up on the North Shore. I’ve only had Waiola’s and Aoki’s, and I think that Waiola’s holds up as my favorite so far. Their machine and their workers take no shortcuts in layering the delicate ice layers to make a compact yet still ethereal confection.