What is Hawaiian style shaved ice?

Once upon a time, Hawaii was famous for sugarcane and pineapple plantations, So wealthy Americans invested vast amounts of money.

Those Planations used to be enormous. Which needed several workers to work in their fields. However, Hawaii’s island population is low because of its geography.

Then, the plantation owners tried to use enslaved people as laborers, but still, there was a lack of force. Then this news of a shortage in labor spread across the nearest country, which is japan.

So, Japanese people started to pour into the island for work. Having tropical climate conditions, the Japanese people began selling their favorite ice desert to Japanese workers, Hawaiian and American people. 

The Japanese call this ice desert kakigori, but old names will be replaced with different names because of the new culture as time passes and people move across other places.

This is what happened in this case. The Hawaiian people loved the delicious dessert and called it shaved ice. 

As time passed away (200 hundred years), several Japanese immigrants settled on the island itself and started selling the shaved ice to the local people.

So, what is Hawaiian style shaved ice? The answer is in the recipe and location. The formula includes a block of ice shaved with a sharp blade or knife. The fluffy or snow ice produced will be taken into a cup or bowl. But before that, ice cream is placed below the snow ice, and a snow syrup is poured, called shaved ice.

What makes Hawaiian shaved ice different?

There are several ways to make shaved ice; it depends upon the location and place where you are staying. 

The above recipe is famous at Matsumoto Shave Ice, and you may not find this type of recipe at all. There are several outlets on Hawaii island, and you can find different flavors.

However, the location is not enough to say Hawaiian shaved is different from others. Let me explain why?

Shaved ice has several names in different countries. For example, in Korea, it is called Patbingsu or bingsu; the recipe looks similar to the USA shaved ice, but it does not because instead of ice cubes, they used frozen condensed milk to shave, and later they add sugar syrup and toppings. 

Hawaiian shaved iceHawaii/UsShaved ice, snow syrup, and toppings.Fluffy
KakigōriJapanSame As Hawaiin shaved iceFluffy
BingsuKoreafrozen cream or milk (shaved), toppings (include chopped fruits, condensed milk, candy, and cookies)Thick 
Baobing/Tshuah-ping China / TaiwanFrozen condensed milk (later shaved), Sugar syrup, and Sugar beans Creamy
Ice GolaIndiaShaved ice with simple homemade gola syrupSnowy
Ice kachangMalaysiaShaved ice, with sugar syrup and extra toppings Fluffy

From the above table, I think now you got an idea of why Hawaiian shaved ice is different and unique from other countries’ shaved ice.


Have you ever visited Hawaii island and wanted to eat authentic shaved ice? Then you should definitely visit several locations like Oahu, Maui, and Honolulu.

Among all the locations, I suggest you visit the best-shaved ice outlets; each outlet is in different parts of the island. If you are willing to travel across all the islands, then do take it as a task to check out all the below outlets. Trust you will love it.

  1. Matsumoto’s Shave Ice (Oahu), 
  2. Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha (Oahu),
  3. Wailua Shave Ice (Kauai),
  4. The Fresh Shave (Kauai), 
  5. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (Maui), 
  6. Original Big Island Shave Ice Co. (Hawaii Island)
  7. Kula Shave Ice ( Hilo)
  8.  Island Vintage Shave Ice (Honolulu)
  9. Waiola Shave Ice (Honolulu)
  10. Wishing Well Shave Ice ( Hanalei, Kauai)

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