Matsumoto Shave Ice Store photo.

Matsumoto Shave Ice: Is This the Best Shave Ice on Oahu?

The experience of eating Hawaiian Shave Ice in Hawaii is akin to having the famed Neapolitan pizza in Venice or the heavenly Macaron in Paris. For a taste of authentic Hawaiian flavor, don’t miss the legendary Matsumoto Shave Ice on the North Shore of Oahu.

Without enjoying this delicious shave ice treat, an O’ahu vacation is incomplete. 

A Brief History of Matsumoto Shave Ice

The founders of Matsumoto Shave Ice represent the history of Hawaii’s shave ice tradition that began in the 1900s when Japanese immigrants began selling kakigori, or sweetened shaved ice, to plantation workers. 

First established in 1951, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice was essentially a grocery store before rising to popularity on O’ahu’s fabled North Shore for its delectable shave ice. 

According to business owner Stan Matsumoto, his parents, Helen and Mamoru, began serving shave ice as a bonus offering to clients. It then became well-liked by locals and tourists, particularly touring surfers who flocked to O’ahu’s North Shore for its renowned waves. Today, Matsumoto’s is still widely popular. On a hot, sunny day, the shop serves up more than 1,000 shave ice. 

Matsumoto grocery store entrance Haleiwa.

Where Are They Located?

Address: 66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712

You can find Matsumoto Shave Ice in the Hale’iwa Store Lots. There is a new entryway where customers can purchase shave ice because the store has expanded. (Following his late father’s advice, Stanley Matsumoto made the right decision). They have only one location worldwide, and the family still runs and manages this exclusive store.

Matsumoto’s Shave Ice Menu from the Beaches of O’ahu

Matsumoto Shave Ice has perfected the technique of making the perfect shave ice. They prepare this frozen sweetness with finely shaved ice, not crushed ice. It produces a fine, fluffy consistency that resembles fresh snowflakes. 

Another good thing about Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is you can choose:

  • The size 
  • The extras
  • The flavors

The prices vary according to the size for a small, a large, and an Ichiban special consisting of a shave ice flavor, vanilla ice cream, beans, condensed milk, mochi, and a waffle bowl.

Cody holding a bowl of shave Ice from Matsumoto.

Combination Ice Shaves

You can choose from a variety of delicious combinations, including:

  • Rainbow: This delicious shave ice comes in strawberry, lemon, and pineapple flavors
  • Matsumoto’s Special: This one has the distinct lusciousness of citrusy lemon, pineapple, and coconut
  • Hawaiian: For the exotic combination of the island favorites, try pineapple, coconut, and banana 
  • Tropical: Well, which Hawaiian ice shave is complete without the taste of the tropics? This ice shave is yummy with the right blend of lilikoi (passion fruit), guava, and papaya.

Bounty of Flavors

Matsumoto Shave Ice also offers other flavors like:

  • Root beer
  • Grape
  • Orange
  • Honeydew
  • Melon
  • Mango
  • Raspberry
  • Watermelon
  • Bubblegum
  • Cotton candy
  • Pina colada
  • Lychee
  • Cherry
  • Green apple
  • Tangerine
  • Green tea
  • Fruit punch
  • Peach
  • Creamsicle
  • And more…

Extra Specials

Apart from this plethora of flavors, they also serve extra toppings like vanilla ice cream, azuki beans, condensed milk, mochi, and more. 

Matsumoto Shave Ice Syrup

After gently being rounded in a cup or occasionally a cone, the shave ice gets lavishly drenched with colorful syrups that may have artificial or natural flavors. Matsumoto pays tribute to the shave ice’s plantation origins in some aspects by using fruit syrups.  

What’s more, Matsumoto has some syrups that don’t contain artificial flavors and colors, such as Mizore(Simple Syrup), Lilikoi(Passion Fruit), and Yuzu. Besides, their Yuzu syrup and the vanilla ice cream contain corn syrup.

Neither the syrup nor the ice contains nuts. Based on this, the ice cream preparation takes place at a facility that uses tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, and whey. Additionally, the azuki beans may or may not get processed alongside nuts. Therefore, if you have nut allergies, we suggest it is best to order your shave ice without any ice cream or azuki beans to be safe.

Why is Matsumoto Shave Ice so Popular?

Shave ice is a Hawaiian specialty. If you visit Matsumoto’s for this sweet treat, you will relish this tasty confection that helps you stay cool on a hot day.

Over 70 years, Matsumoto Shave ice has become synonymous with Hawaiian culture. Even today, people flock to Matsumoto’s for being true to their original taste. Matsumoto is by far one of the best places on Oahu to get shave ice.

How to Order Shave Ice at Matsumoto’s Shave Ice? 

  • First, specify how many servings of Matsumoto Shave Ice you want.
  • Then decide if it will be big or small. 
  • The next decision is whether you want it with ice cream or beans. The beans can be either frozen azuki or red beans. 
  • The first person in line for the order gets all the information. You proceed further down the line and select your flavor.

Tips for Enjoying the Delights of Matsumoto Shave Ice

  • Be there early. Matsumoto is open Monday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Everyone who visits O’ahu visits Matsumoto’s. So, the line stretches down Kamehameha Highway by early evening.
  • You have a little more time if you arrive early to look around for Matsumoto’s cool T-shirts, shorts, and other apparel. 
  • Choose simple syrup, passionfruit, or yuzu instead of the synthetic flavors and colors at Matsumoto Shave Ice.
  • Avoid condensed milk, vanilla ice cream, strawberry, coconut, and banana flavorings if you want a 100% vegan eating experience.
  • Know the meanings of some of the flavor names. For instance, Green River is lemon-lime, Mizore is simple syrup, and lilikoi is passion fruit. If you don’t know the meanings, that’s okay too. Just ask!
  • The shave ice is gluten-free, except for the edible bowl or Ichiban special.

Why We Love Matsumoto Shave Ice

Japanese flavors are the source of the distinct taste of Matsumoto Shave Ice, including their irresistibly delectable Ichiban Special. Japanese flavorful red beans are cooked down in sugar till they are sweeter than ever as part of Matsumoto Shave Ice’s meticulous homemade preparation. 

Then they directly place them on top of the shaved ice, followed by a dollop of ice cream. The sweet beans provide the rich, creamy ice cream with the perfect complement, adding an unexpectedly pleasant zing to the shave ice.

At Matsumoto Shave Ice, choosing a pre-made flavor combination from the menu is the simplest option, but creating your own is more enjoyable, and that’s what we love about them.

Get Ready to Indulge Yourself 

Head on to Matsumoto Shave Ice for an icy cold sugar rush to experience self-indulgence like never before. How about some azuki beans? Your taste buds will delight in these fantastic toppings from the first bite to the last cold mouthful.

Just be prepared to stand in the queue for what seems like an endless wait to order your cup of frozen goodness. Those who are prepared to wait for the best things will reap the rewards.

Mahalo for reading! Until next time, Aloha!

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