Malasadas and shave ice.
I've searched many a place, and these simply can't be shipped or replicated. Shave ice won't make it past the security line. I've tried, and in case you are wondering, the TSA considers shave ice to be a liquid. And malasadas simply do not travel well or re-heat. So the only solution is to indulge when you can.
Here's a 'new' shave ice place, even though it's been there for years.
These ladies rule.
Othe top part of the Aiea Shopping Center. Go into the office-looking area.99-080 Kauhale St.
Aiea, HI 96701
Two very sweet-looking mama-sans run this closet of a place. Don't be fooled. These chicks are full of moxie. Go before they retire, and if you can, speak to the shorter one in Japanese. Or Chinese. Or Korean. She likes that. There is no cash register and all the orders are written down with a pencil on a scrap of paper. There are prices, but what you pay is what she calculates. Don't challenge her math skills because she's way sharper than you are. Don't argue with the "suggestions," it's not for you to decide. It sounds like it should be a horrific experience, but the place is quirky/charming and so worth it.
Flan and mochi balls. Pure swoon.
Flan/custard, mochi balls and azuki bean add-ons are just amazingly ono. I'm normally a shave ice purist (no solid mix-ins), but I will go back for the flan and mochi balls. Good consistency on the shave ice and the syrups a bit less sweet to balance out the add-ins. I still like Baldwin's or Waiola for just shave ice only, but this place is definitely in the shave ice rotation.
Mardi Gras in Hawaii--Chinatown and Malasadas
Mardi Gras was celebrated with a street fair of all manner of food booths. In Chinatown. Cajun food mixed in with local food (malasada hamburgers, shrimp tacos and BBQ chicken), soccer, bands and the traditional dancers, beads and general carousing.
Honolulu's top news story on Mardi Gras.
More importantly, Tuesdays, and in particular Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is Malasada Day. You just have to love a place where malasadas are the top story of the news cycle (see left). People (me included) were lined up for Mardi Gras malasadas and a few Catholic high schools had malasada fundraisers. As a marketing consultant, it's a brilliant campaign to eat a thoroughly indulgent food before Lent, but why not plate lunches or rice or gasp(!) shave ice?
By default I'm giving up malasadas, shave ice, Zippy's and Grace's for Lent.
Eat Well. Be Well.
We enjoyed a (long) day trip kayaking and snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay and then visiting the City of Refuge (Pu'uhonua O Honaunau
). And of course, we had to eat. If you have the chance, these three are unpretentious, full of aloha, and unanimously approved by our motley band of 4 adults and 4 kids.
Super J's Hawaiian Food
83-5409 Mamalahoa Hwy
About halfway between Kealakekua and Honaunau
Captain Cook, HI 96704
This place was recommended by the local kayaking guys and even appeared on Food Network (as a segment of "The Best Thing I've Ever Eaten"). Look for it on the right as your drive south and be advised, it looks more like a house than a restaurant.
The sign says Authentic Hawaiian food (vs. "Hawaii" food). Absolute truth in advertising. This is not a Rainbow's Drive Inn, huge-variety plate lunch place. Walking in is literally like going into your Aunty's dining room/kitchen on Hawaiian food day. It is very friendly and very casual, right down to the fish tank full of guppies and family photos on the counter.
The food is fab. The laulau is darn-near perfect. She says it slow cooks for 10 hours, and it is the ideal size, moist without being greasy or squishy and an ideal balance of salt/pork/luau leaves. With some of the best, smoothest poi. Poi gets a bad rap; Super J's will change your mind. Skip the flashy resort luau and go here for what Hawaiian food was meant to be.
Super J's also gave us the recommendation for our next stop...
Kalama's (808) 328-2828825674 Lower Napo'opo'o Rd
Honaunau-Napoopoo, HI 96704
Pretty much everything closes between 4:30 and 5:00pm. We were the last customers at around 4:20 pm. A good-sized serving in a cup with a choice of three flavors. Guava is awesome
. Lilikoi, pineapple and lychee were also quite good. Mango sounded good but was sold out. They also had blackberry, which we didn't try, but it sure sounds good. This gave us just enough time to go to...
81-6581 Mamalahoa Highway (between mile markers 111 and 112)
Kealakekua, Hawaii 96750www.greenwellfarms.com
We had exactly 20 minutes at Greenwell Farms. Which was more than enough time to sample chocolate macadamia nut, their newest chameleon blend and the full city roast. Peaberry and the Private Reserve are sold out--check the website for the 2011/12 availability.
Coffee benefits from ideal growing climate in Kona. 100% Kona coffee is spectacular
, and well-worth the higher price point. Less expensive "Kona blends" use a small percentage of Kona coffee (typically 10%, but they should specify exactly), and you can taste the difference.
And yes, they do make 100% Kona decaf, and Swiss-water processed at that! This was definitely an Eat Well | Be Well day.
I've just gotten back from a week back home in Hawaii.
It was warm. The beach was beautiful, and I ate a lot of shave ice, specifically from Baldwin's (3x) and Waiola (1x). I had great intentions of trying Ice Garden in Aiea and Shimazu's near Frog Lane in Kalihi, but the week was short. I also usually skip Matsumoto's and Aoki's on the North Shore. Matsumoto's is usually pretty crowded and can also have a lot of bees in the parking area.
Shave ice makes me very happy. I think I like shave ice more than I like coffee. It is the very first stop upon arrival and the very last stop prior to departure.
If you are keeping score, it would be Shave Ice - 4, Starbucks - 0. And it would have been even higher except Baldwin's is closed on Mondays, and I took a nap and missed the 'afternoon shave ice' window on another day.
Just like ordering your grande, decaf, non-fat 2-pump vanilla latte, there is specific jargon for shave ice. Size first, add-ons, then flavors, and only when they ask you. For example, you could order a keiki (child-sized) with azuki, mochi balls, condensed milk and li-hing powder. Then add strawberry and vanilla flavors. That could easily be a sugar-bomb of a meal. I prefer plain shave ice to get the full, pure flavor of the syrup.Baldwin's
is my favorite. Reasonable, super-friendly, family-run, and a choice of three flavors
. The li-hing
are the best I've had. My sister highly recommends vanilla, pineapple
, and coke
. They used to have a lemon peel flavor but no longer, likely because it tasted like cough medicine (but props for trying something new!). My happy combos are Li-hing/vanilla/banana, Li-hing/banana/ pineapple. My kids recommend lilikoi
and say in general, all the flavors are very distinct compared to other places (not just sweet).
Despite what you see on Hawaii Five-0, Waiola Shave Ice (in Kapahulu, off Mokihana Street and the original one on Waiola, near Kapiolani and University) does not have a humongous happy Hawaiian man making shave ice. It's more expensive than Baldwin's and you have a choice of 2 flavors. However, the texture of the shave ice is like liquid velvet. Any combination of haupia (a Hawaiian coconut cream jello dessert flavor), melona (an Asian/ South Korean honeydew melon cream flavor) lilikoi (passion fruit) and guava will make you very happy.
Would love to hear of your favorite shave ice places, or even just other happy food places! Aloha :)