How to Enjoy Shave Ice on Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii

Few places on the planet have as much mojo as O’ahu’s North Shore. It is simply a place where good vibes and energy overtake even the most uptight, out-of-whack traveler.shave iceYou must visit a place called Matsumoto Shave Ice where a kink in your attitude will not be tolerated. You gotta get your mojo under control, otherwise you won’t enjoy one of the coolest treats in all of the Hawaiian Islands. 
Matsumoto Shave Ice opened in 1951 as a simple grocery store, but slowly the Matsumoto family lost control of the grocery business after they added the snow cones in the 1960s. shave iceFinally, in 2015, they gave up on groceries entirely, turned the original store into a retail outlet and expanded the entire business to accommodate the crazy lines of people who crave their very special version of shave ice.The secret to Matsumoto’s is the frozen azuki beans in the bottom of their special snow cones.

How to Order Shave Ice 

o'ahu's north shoreIf you’ve Seinfeld’s infamous Soup Nazi episode, you’ll understand how important it is to get your order process right. If you don’t, you won’t be denied your snow cone, but you’ll certainly look like a tourist, and that’s so not cool.

Signs posted in several languages tell you how to order. DO NOT start out saying what flavor you want. That’s the sign of true novice and you’ll be frowned at, or at the least someone in line will roll their eyes at you and mutter something under their breath.

  1. First, tell how many shave ice you want, meaning how many you are paying for, how many in your party.
  2. Then whether it is to be a large or small. Large is really big. Start out small, seriously.
  3. Then, this is the important part: do you want it with ice cream or with beans? That’s what makes a shave ice so different. The beans are frozen red beans or azuki beans. They are kind of fun and sweet when they are frozen.
  4. All of this information is told to the first order taker in line. Then you move down the line and choose your flavor.

This photo was from a 2007 visit to Matsumoto’s when you had the option of spending 25-cents on a plastic cup, shown here by our super model Sarah.

You may think this is a lot of commotion just for a snow cone, but it’s not just any snow cone. Remember those magic frozen beans. Everybody comes to Matsumoto’s when they are on O’ahu. Look closely at faces behind those sunglasses. Lots of celebrities and their families show up here.

We arrived about 3 p.m. and the line wasn’t too long. By early evening, the line snakes out of the store and down Kamehameha Highway. Going early also allows you a bit more time to shop around for cool T-shirts, shorts and such. It’s one of the best souvenir shirts in any mojotraveler’s collection.

Final tip – remember that it is Matsumoto Shave Ice – not shaveD ice with a D. You’ll really sound like a dork if you call it shaveD ice, and that would be so embarrassing in a place with so much mojo.



Matsumoto's Shave Ice is now served in heavy duty paper bowls, which are more environmentally friendly than the previous plastic cups.

Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is now served in heavy duty paper bowls, which are more environmentally friendly than the previous plastic cups.








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